Country and regional strategy from Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Country strategy: Belarus 2011-2014 Reference No.: UD 11.028

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The situation regarding democracy and human rights in Belarus is extremely serious and deteriorated further in connection with the presidential elections in December 2010. The manner in which the elections were conducted, and the subsequent attacks on representatives of the opposition, independent media and civil society, severely set back efforts to promote democracy and respect for human rights.

In light of this, the EU foreign ministers decided in January 2011 to reinstate and consolidate the sanctions imposed on sections of the Belarusian leadership. The EU is demanding that Belarus, as a first step, release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and move unequivocally towards democracy and respect for human rights. If it fails to do so, the EU may take further action. At the same time, the EU plans to increase its commitment to the Belarusian population, e.g. by seeking to facilitate travel and by stepping up its support to civil society.

It is in the long-term interests of Sweden and the rest of Europe to ensure that Belarus develops both into a modern, politically pluralistic and democratic state based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, and into an economically and environmentally sustainable society. Sweden´s long tradition of broad-based development work in Belarus has resulted in valuable experience and established important ties that can be turned to advantage. Meanwhile, Swedish support will be concentrated to three sectors – i) democracy, human rights and gender equality, ii) environment, and iii) market development – the aim being to focus efforts during the coming strategy period on areas where Sweden has a significant competitive advantage.