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Estonia, Latvia recall envoys to Belarus in solidarity with Lithuania, Poland

Estonia and Latvia said on Wednesday they were recalling their ambassadors to Belarus in response to what Tallinn called "unfounded" Belarusian pressure on Lithuania and Poland, fellow critics of veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were the first European Union countries to sanction Lukashenko and other officials for alleged fraud during a disupted Aug. 9 presidential election he said he won and violence against protests that followed.

Reuters | Updated: 07-10-2020 19:29 IST | Created: 07-10-2020 19:29 IST
Estonia, Latvia recall envoys to Belarus in solidarity with Lithuania, Poland

Estonia and Latvia said on Wednesday they were recalling their ambassadors to Belarus in response to what Tallinn called "unfounded" Belarusian pressure on Lithuania and Poland, fellow critics of veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were the first European Union countries to sanction Lukashenko and other officials for alleged fraud during a disupted Aug. 9 presidential election he said he won and violence against protests that followed. Belarus in turn accuses Lithuania and Poland of meddling in its affairs by hosting exiled opposition leaders and refusing to recognise the victory of Lukashenko in the election.

Belarus recalled its own ambassadors from Poland and Lithuania on Friday for consultations and issued a request that the two EU member states scale back the number of staff at their embassies. Lithuania and Poland refused to cut the staff, and subsequently recalled their ambassadors to Belarus for consultations in the hope of reducing regional tensions.

"In Estonia's view, the Belarusian pressure on Lithuania and Poland is unfounded and unfortunate," Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement. "In protest against the steps taken by Belarus, we have decided to invite our ambassador from Belarus to Tallinn for consultations," he said.

Lukashenko's opponents accuse him of rigging the vote to prolong his 26-year-old rule, which he denies. The former Soviet republic has been rocked by weeks of protests that have drawn a violent crackdown, prompting the United States and European Union to impose sanctions on Minsk. (Reporting By Andrius Sytas, Editing by William Maclean)


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