World Bulletin / News Desk
The EU is to end most of its sanctions against Belarus, including strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, after improvements in its human rights record, diplomatic sources said Friday.
The European Union in October suspended an asset freeze and travel ban against 170 individuals and three entities for four months after Lukashenko released several high-profile political prisoners as demanded by Brussels.
The sources told AFP that EU foreign ministers meeting Monday in Brussels are now expected to approve ending these sanctions completely.
At the same time, four people who were not included in the October suspension because of their involvement in "unresolved disappearances," will remain on the blacklist, the sources said.
A longstanding arms embargo will also stay in place.
"For us, it is important to remain a close monitor of human rights in Belarus and we don’t believe there has been significant improvement," one of the sources said.
"Some member states believe the best way to get an improvement is to lift sanctions while others like us to believe it is best to leave some (measures) in place," the source said.
Doing so "implies leverage... that we can extend the list again if need be," the source added.
Another source said the foreign ministers are mindful of the wider picture, notably Belarus' role in hosting a series of peace talks between Kyiv and pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.
"In the Ukraine crisis, Belarus has played a positive role and shown a willingness to come closer to the EU," the source said.
"That does not mean we are doing this with our eyes closed. It is clear that Belarus is not paradise on earth," the source added.
The EU has long demanded that Lukashenko -- dubbed Europe's 'Last Dictator' by Washington -- improve the human rights record in Belarus, once part of the Soviet empire.
In power since 1994, his release of political prisoners last year was seen as a major step forward despite opposition warnings that Brussels should not ease up on the sanctions.
Source: Agence France-PresseGüncelleme Tarihi: 12 Şubat 2016, 16:43