Dutch Christian Democrat MPs have come out against a visit by Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov to Brussels. He is due meet the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton today.
The MPs say the visit should not go ahead before the EU has discussed possible new sanctions against Belarus following controversial election results and a crackdown on the opposition. They argue the visit flies in the face of the Dutch position favouring a tough approach towards Belarus and have put forward questions in parliament for Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal.
The EU and US want to widen the sanctions against the regime in Minsk, saying Belarusian presidential elections in December were not free and fair. Opposition leaders were among the 600 or so people arrested in Belarus during protests against the election results.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently come out in favour of sanctions against the regime in Belarus, including travel bans on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and members of his administration.
The Belarusian opposition has joined forces to resist the increasing crackdown in Belarus. It is calling for new elections and for the international community to put the Belarusian regime under pressure. It is also demanding more press freedom and help with reforms.
(c) Radio Netherlands Worldwide