Belarus Says EU Move Will Escalate Tensions

Posted February 29th, 2012 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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Belarus has criticized a decision by European Union members to pull their ambassadors from the country, saying the move escalates tensions.

The Belarusian foreign ministry said Wednesday that the move is unproductive and cautioned that what it called scare tactics will not soften its stance.

European Union members decided Tuesday to withdraw their ambassadors after Belarus ordered the Polish and EU ambassadors out of the country.

Belarus ordered the envoys to leave after the EU imposed sanctions against Belarusian officials because of that country's poor human rights record.

The EU and United States increased sanctions on Belarus after the violent crackdown on the opposition following the December 2010 presidential election. Hundreds were arrested including a number of opposition candidates.

Human rights groups say many of those arrested are still in jail.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko won re-election in a vote many opposition members say was fraudulent.