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EU recalls ambassadors from Belarus

Feb. 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

MINSK, Belarus, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Belarus says the European Union is escalating tensions after the EU recalled all its ambassadors in a dispute over human rights.

The move by the EU was a reaction to Minsk's decision Tuesday to expel the EU ambassador and the Polish ambassador from the country in retaliation for new sanctions imposed by the bloc over the country's human rights record, EUobserver said.

EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton said the recall was ordered in an expression of European solidarity and unity.

Belarus said it will "close entry to Belarus to those of the European Union which contributed to the introduction of restrictive measures," Interfax-Ukraine reported Wednesday.

Belarus Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said the EU's retaliatory move "is the way to a dead end."

"Brussels and the capitals of the European Union countries should not forget that the intimidation tactics don't work when applied to Belarus. Normalization of relations is impossible on unilateral conditions and on conditions of forcible pressure," he said.

EU neighborhood commissioner Stefan Fuele says the ambassador recalls are a distraction from the real issue, which is how to get the former Soviet bloc country to free political prisoners, EUobserver said.

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