The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the country’s authorities are withdrawing their consent to work in Minsk, issued to US Ambassador Julie Fisher. The US Embassy in Belarus stated that the responsibility for the deterioration of relations rests with the Minsk regime.
The Belarusian authorities withdrew their consent to work in Minsk for US Ambassador Julie Fisher and demanded that the number of US embassy employees be limited to five, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday. This is a response to the sanctions introduced by the US authorities.
“The brazen and openly hostile actions of the American side, as well as the actions of its individual representatives completely inconsistent with the notion of diplomacy and professionalism, destroyed the achievements of our predecessors and forced us to cancel the previously issued consent for Julie Fisher to become the US ambassador to our country” – he said in Wednesday, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Response from the US Embassy in Minsk
“The responsibility for the deterioration in relations between the US and Belarus rests with the regime and its inability to allow independent votes in the country and to fulfill its international obligations,” the US Embassy said Wednesday evening, commenting on Minsk’s reaction to the US sanctions.
The Americans assured that they would “continue to support Belarusian society and cooperate with pro-democracy circles, media, students, lecturers, athletes and other representatives of civil society.”
“On August 9, on the anniversary of the rigged presidential elections in Belarus, the US, in cooperation with allies and partners, introduced new tools aimed at holding Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his regime accountable for the ongoing brutal repression against Belarusians at home and abroad,” the US embassy wrote in a statement . “Today, Lukashenka’s regime responded with threats, attempts to intimidate and further restriction of the field for dialogue,” he added.
The communiqué stated that the US clearly indicated the actions necessary to solve the crisis in Belarus, in line with the recommendations of the OSCE mission: immediate release of political prisoners, real and inclusive dialogue with the opposition and civil society, as well as free and fair elections conducted with the participation of international observers. .
Limited number of US embassy staff in Belarus
On Wednesday, the US charge d’affaires in Belarus was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Julie Fisher, despite prior consent, has not yet been admitted to Belarus and accredited because the authorities in Minsk have refused to issue her with a visa. In addition, the number of US embassy staff is to be limited to five by 1 September. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry sees no point in having more diplomats in the country, given the level of relations and US sanctions.
Given the “loss of confidence in the current US administration,” Minsk stopped all efforts to agree new projects, grants and programs with the US government.
The US imposes sanctions against the Belarusian authorities
On Monday, the authorities The US announced the introduction of the next stage of sanctions towards the Belarusian authorities. They include 27 people and 17 entities, including businessmen close to Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the Belarusian Olympic Committee and two key state-owned enterprises. Canada and the United Kingdom have also announced their own sanctions.
Since 2008, the US embassy in Minsk has operated without an ambassador. The dismissal of the then ambassador and the reduction of the staffing of the post was Minsk’s response to Washington’s sanctions. In recent years, the US and Belarus have gradually lifted their mutual restrictions, but the process was interrupted by the events in 2020 in Belarus – deemed as rigged presidential elections and mass repression of participants in peaceful protests.
Main photo source: MICHAEL REYNOLDS / PAP / EPA