Salem Radio Network News Thursday, January 20, 2022

World

France says Belarus forced French ambassador to leave country

PARIS (Reuters) -France said on Monday its ambassador to Belarus had left the country on the previous day because authorities in Minsk had asked him to leave after he did not present his credentials to President Alexander Lukashenko.

The European Union has refused to recognise Lukashenko’s election to a sixth presidential term and in line with the bloc the French envoy had not submitted his accreditation to Belarus’ president more than a year ago.

Speaking to reporters in an online briefing on Monday, French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said Paris had taken “proportional measures” against Belarus following Minsk’s decision.

A diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Belarus’ ambassador had been asked to leave Paris.

“France … will continue to stand by the Belarusian people and will look for a solution to the crisis in the country,” Legendre said.

The ambassador – Nicolas de Lacoste – will now assume the role of special envoy for Belarus while his number two at the embassy will take over his role.

Relations between EU member states and Belarus have been at a low ebb since last year when Lukashenko comfortably won re-election in an election the opposition said was rigged, and cracked down on the opposition, detaining all its leading figures or driving them into exile.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Dominique Vidalon and John Irish;Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Jonathan Oatis)

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