8 Sep 2021 21:17

EU terminated obligations under readmission agreement with Belarus in spring of 2020 - Belarusian Foreign Ministry

MINSK. Sept 8 (Interfax) - The European Union actually terminated its obligations under the readmission agreement with Belarus more than a year ago, Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anatoly Glaz told reporters on Wednesday.

"In March of last year, the European Union suspended financing of an important project in the field of readmission that actually put on hold the fulfilment of its obligations under said readmission agreement," Glaz was quoted as saying by the Belarusian state-run news agency BelTA.

Glaz noted that since April of last year, Belarus has been proposing consultations be held on this topic, "and there is still no answer." "Under these conditions, of course, at a certain stage, we also decided to suspend the fulfillment of obligations under this agreement," he said.

"This isn't the current situation. This is an absolutely logical, exclusively reciprocal step by the Belarusian side," Glaz said.

Minsk has warned about the decision to suspend the readmission agreement with the EU for a long time, namely following the imposition of another package of sanctions against the country. In the context of the EU's curtailment of specific cooperation and the cessation of funding for projects in the border area, Belarus had to respond adequately to the sanctions pressure. The previously adopted decision is now being formalized, the Foreign Ministry said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko submitted to parliament a bill on the suspension of the agreement between Belarus and the EU on the readmission of persons staying without permission. The presidential press service noted that this document had been drawn up by the government in response to the unfriendly steps taken by the EU and its member states in relation to Belarus. The agreement defines the mechanism for the transfer, acceptance, and return of persons who have violated the conditions of entry, stay, and residence, it said.

In early July, Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said that Minsk would shortly complete the procedure for suspending the readmission agreement with the EU.

At the same time, Makei answered a question whether Belarus leaves a kind of window for itself, speaking specifically about the suspension of the agreement, and not its full discontinuation, so that in case of an improvement in relations, it can rejoin it.

"We always leave a window, chiefly not for ourselves, but for our Western partners. We believe it's wrong to ruin everything and leave scorched earth behind, which our European partners are trying to do. We have always been and will be focused on acting in a calm and constructive manner. And we are interested in having all issues resolved in a calm and diplomatic way, rather than what our partners are seeking to do nowadays," he said.

Belarus will redirect some funding from measures to equip and maintain the border infrastructure to minimizing the possible effects of the West's sanctions, he said.