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Poland slams Slovenia blocking Belarusian oligarch sanctions

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 28.02.2012 07:55
Poland's foreign minister has said he is “sad” that Slovenia blocked EU sanctions against Belarusian business supporting the authoritarian President Lukashenko regime.
PAP Andrzej Hrechorowicz

Sikorski, Monday: photo - PAP/ Andrzej Hrechorowicz

“It is sad for the EU [that] economic interests of one member are more important than the need to influence the Belarusian authorities to release political prisoners,” Radoslaw Sikorski told the TVP public broadcaster.

Sikorski - who was in Brussels, Monday for a meeting of EU foreign ministers - said that though it was legitimate for member states to pursue their national economic interest, in this case “the limits [of national interest] have been exceeded”.

The ministers agreed to imposing travel restrictions on 21 judges and policemen to protest at deteriorating human rights under President Alexander Lukashenko but postponed plans to ban Belarussian businessman Yuri Chizh from trading in the 27-nation bloc.

The proposal to include Chizh, who owns the Dinamo Minsk football club and has extensive links with President Lukashenko, was vetoed by Slovenia, where the Belarusian oligarch has extensive interests.

The Belarusian businessman in has signed, among others, a contract with a Slovenian construction company for the building of a luxury hotel in Minsk.

“I hope future guests of the Kempinski Hotel will be aware and remember how long many of the political prisoners had to stay in jail, so that they could have the opportunity of enjoying their stay,” the Polish foreign minister commented.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, said talks to sanction companies operating in Belarus would take place in March.

210 people associated with the Lukashenko regime are already on an EU visa blacklist, after a crackdown and imprisonment of opposition activists following presidential elections in December 2010, which the EU, US and others consider “rigged”. (pg/ss)

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