Earlier this month Belarus effectively expelled Sweden's ambassador after he met with opposition activists. Stockholm, in turn, barred entry to the incoming Belarusian ambassador and ordered out two other Belarusian diplomats.
These latest diplomatic tensions also came soon after a pair of Swedish activists was reported to have used a light plane to drop hundreds of teddy bears bearing messages supportive of human rights into Belarus.
The EU has already targeted 32 businesses and 243 individuals in Belarus, including President Alexander Lukashenko, with travel bans and asset freezes over alleged links to human rights abuses. The EU also imposed an arms embargo on Belarus in June, banning it from selling arms or riot gear used for internal repression due to what it said was the deterioration of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the country.
According to Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, with the approach of elections in September, the EU does not want to further isolate Belarus.
"We want to keep channels open now, and sanctions against Belarus will be reviewed in October, whether it will be possible to lift them or will we have to tighten them, and we will also remember demands for the release of political prisoners," Tuomioja told Yle.
A response was in order, however, said the Foreign Minister, because actions by Belarus against Sweden were inappropriate.
"This is now the kind of dispute in which Belarus is shooting itself in the foot," said Tuomioja.
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