European Foreign Ministers have maintained a suspension on the application of travel restrictions on officials from Belarus, but extended until 31 October 2011 the restrictive measures in place due to the lack of sufficient progress on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
"At the end of that period, the Council will review the restrictive measures in the light of the situation in Belarus. The Council may decide to reapply or lift travel restrictions at any time, in light of actions by the Belarusian authorities in the sphere of democracy and human rights," the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg said.
The Council underlined the need for further reforms of the Electoral Code, the freedom of expression and of the media, the freedom of assembly and association. It also regretted the recent death sentences in Belarus and urged Minsk to introduce a moratorium on the use of death penalty leading to its abolition.
However, EU foreign ministers have reiterated the importance of the EU's "critical engagement policy towards Belarus" and "noted the continuation of high-level EU-Belarus political dialogue, the intensified technical cooperation and participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership."
Subject to progress in Belarus on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the Conclusions said, the EU stood "ready to take steps towards upgrading contractual relations with Belarus."
The Council welcomed the decision by the Belarusian authorities to invite an OSCE/ODIHR-led international election observation mission to observe presidential elections in Belarus due on 19 December 2010 and said the EU would continue to provide support to Belarus' civil society "in order to promote the development of a pluralistic and democratic environment in Belarus." (ENPI Info Centre)
Council Conclusions on Belarus http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/117326.pdf
ENPI Info Centre webpage - Belarus http://enpi-info.eu/themeeast.php?country=58
EU Delegation - Belarus http://www.delblr.ec.europa.eu/home.html