MOSCOW, October 30 (RIA Novosti) – The EU announced the prolongation of its sanctions against Belarus until October 31, 2015 due to concerns about human rights violations in the country, NewEurope reported Wednesday.
“The Council reiterates its calls for the immediate release and rehabilitation of all remaining political prisoners,” said a statement by the Council of the European Union. “The Council [also] calls upon the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment of civil society, the political opposition and the independent media.”
The sanctions imposed on Belarus by European countries include travel bans for certain persons and the freezing of their financing assets. The list of persons non grata currently embraces 232 individuals.
Unlike Ukraine, Belarus has not considered political and free trade agreements with the European Union, entering the Eurasian Economic Union (consisting of Russia and Kazakhstan) instead, NewEurope reports. The pro-Russian position held by Belarusian authorities, as well as numerous reports about the country’s alleged human rights violations, have exacerbated relations between the EU and Belarus.
In its recent statement, the EU Council called on Belarusian authorities to adhere to human rights standards, release political detainees and stop oppression of independent media. EU countries also insisted that Belarus should show “respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles” and announced an extension of their restrictive measures until the situation improves.