Head of the Belarus President Administration Vladimir Makei gave an interview to Belarusian mass media on 17 April.
The journalists asked: “Mass media abound in statements saying that by releasing two opposition activists convicted of staging the December 2010 riot, the Belarusian authorities want to create conditions for the return of the EU ambassadors to Minsk. Can you comment on it?”
“I cannot. It is totally absurd. There is a world of difference between them. Prisoners can be released solely at discretion of the head of state. The President made it quite clear that if these people repent and write a petition for mercy, their petition will be considered in accordance with the established procedure. That is exactly what happened. The President has demonstrated his consistency.
“However, the return of the ambassadors is another kettle of fish. It was the European Union that recalled the ambassadors. Now the European Union is asking us to allow the return of the ambassadors to Belarus. It does not really ask, but demands and even threatens to impose new sanctions. Our position on the issue is well-known. We do not want to raise tension. Quite the opposite, we have declared our readiness to engage in a dialogue with the European Union on all levels. However, we believe that the ambassadors should come back when the situation is ripe. I mean when the European Union realizes that the policy of blackmail, diktat and sanctions against Belarus is wrong and comes to understand that it should engage in a dialogue.
“What is happening today? They are putting forward new demands. They say that there are 15 or 20 prisoners that should be literally ‘immediately released and rehabilitated’. The list includes even radical anarchist revolutionaries, who bombed the Russian embassy with Molotov cocktails. As the European Union understands it, this list may grow to include up to 50-60 people tomorrow. Therefore, this kind of demands is a deadlock. Nobody will be released due to pressure, there will be no rehabilitation to do the European Union’s bidding. Everyone should understand this. The released prisoners put it in there petitions in black and white that they admit their guilt and regret it.
“Therefore, the ambassadors can return to Belarus when the European Union comes to understand the need to negotiate the abolition of sanctions against Belarus and when the ambassadors, who want to come to Belarus, stop talking the language of sanctions and threats, but engage in a dialogue, as required by conventions on diplomatic relations.”