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Council of Europe suspends all relations with Belarus over Ukraine war

Decision will impact technical co-operation with Minsk as well as partial agreements

PARIS

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has suspended all relations with Belarus for its active participation in Russia’s war against Ukraine, the inter-governmental organization announced Thursday.

Belarus will no longer be able to participate in any meetings, activities or partial agreements of the council, the statement added.

The action came a day after the committee suspended the Russian Federation’s membership for its aggression against Ukraine.

The committee also decided to cease all technical co-operation with Minsk and only maintain relations with Belarusian civil society and the opposition in exile, independent media, and human rights activists.

The decision will impact Belarus’s representation and participation as an observer state in the European Pharmacopoeia Commission and the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), in certain meetings of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), and as an associate member in the Venice Commission.

Representatives of Belarus will also lose with immediate effect access to the office located on the premises of the council’s headquarters.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vatican City are among the only European countries to have not acceded to the Strasbourg-based council, which has a membership of 47 countries. Minsk is, however, a state party to 12 legal instruments of the council, including in the areas of good governance, the fight against corruption, human trafficking, culture, education and sports.

The council follows stringent rules for membership, requiring a total commitment from prospective members towards human rights, principles of democracy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms.

Belarus has been refused full membership as it continues to enforce the death penalty and limit democratic freedoms.

Belarus borders Ukraine and is a close ally of Russia. Ukrainian authorities have claimed that Belarusian troops have joined Russia’s assault and the country was facing shelling from its northern border.

The European Union and the US have imposed sanctions against Minsk for being a co-aggressor and aiding Russia in the war. Belarus has also hosted negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.

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