Belarus to screen EU envoys before their return
(MINSK) - Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday he will screen EU envoys individually before allowing them back in following their unilateral withdrawal in protest at his rights record.
The strongman leader's domestic opponents have called on the EU nations' ambassadors to return because Lukashenko responded to their February action by banning his heaviest critics from leaving the country in reprisal.
Lukashenko said the European Union had to alter its approach to his government if it wanted its embassies fully staffed in Minsk.
"I have to agree with the foreign minister that we are going to examine each country and each ambassador individually," the veteran leader told a government meeting.
"If this is the way they want to conduct themselves, we simply have to think it over," he said.
The withdrawal came after Minsk recalled two of its envoys to EU states in protest at the latest raft of sanctions against its officials.
The EU last month added 12 more people and 29 companies to a list of officials blacklisted for the continuing repression of civil society by Lukashenko's regime.
Lukashenko has been branded Europe's last dictator by Washington for his persecution of all forms of public dissent against his 18-year rule.
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