EU maintains sanctions against Belarus
(LUXEMBOURG) - European Union foreign ministers on Monday maintained sanctions on Belarus due to serious concerns over human rights as well as flawed general elections last month.
In a statement, the 27-nation bloc said it "remains gravely concerned about the lack of respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law in Belarus."
It also described September 23 parliamentary elections as "another missed opportunity" for democratic progress and demanded the immediate release of political prisoners and the "harassment" of civil society, the opposition and the independent media.
The EU therefore "decided to prolong the existing restrictive measures" until Octoner 31, 2013, the statement said.
Belarus condemned the move, urging the European Union to take steps to revive "an atmosphere of mutual trust."
"Today's decision by the Council of the European Union essentially freezes relations between Belarus and the European Union at a level that objectively suits neither side," said spokesman for the Belarussian foreign ministry
"The Belarussian side will not give in to pressure. We believe that such EU policies are not compatible with good-neighbourly relations," he said in a statement.
A total 243 people are subject to an EU assets freeze and travel ban, with 32 firms also targeted by an asset freeze.
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