French Ambassador expelled from Belarus during diplomatic quarrel | World

PARIS (AP) – France has said its ambassador to Belarus has been ordered to leave the country.

In a statement issued on Monday, the French Foreign Ministry said that the departure of Ambassador Nicolas de Lacoste on Sunday was due to the “unilateral decision” of the Belarusian authorities.

Local media claim that the decision to expel the ambassador is linked to the non-recognition by France and other European Union countries of the re-election of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in August 2020.

Belarus’ foreign ministry said the French ambassador’s emergency departure was linked to his reluctance to present his credentials to Lukashenko.

“The head of the French diplomatic mission has not declared himself ready to complete the procedure for taking up the post of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Belarus, which is provided for by international law and generally recognized practice” , said Anatoly Glaz, press secretary of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The French Foreign Ministry explained that de Lacoste had not presented his credentials to Lukashenko because this was “in line with the common European position not to recognize the legitimacy of the result of the presidential election of August 2020″ .

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Lukashenko claimed victory, but the election was marred by widespread electoral fraud and viewed as a sham by opposition supporters and Western governments. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in protests that have continued for months against Lukashenko, who is being given a sixth term. In a brutal government crackdown on protests, more than 35,000 people have been arrested and thousands beaten by police.

The French ambassador arrived in the Belarusian capital of Minsk after the controversial presidential election. In December, he handed copies of his credentials to the Belarusian foreign minister but refused to meet with Lukashenko.

De Lacoste met with representatives of civil society and politicians in Belarus, including activists from the opposition “Tell the Truth” movement, which was shut down by the authorities. On Saturday, he also met a former Belarusian leader, Stanislav Shushkevich, who sharply criticized the current government.

Belarusian opponent Pavel Latushko, former Belarusian Ambassador to France, called on the French Ambassador to continue his mission from Lithuania.

“The French Ambassador can continue his mission in the interest of developing relations between France and Belarusian society in Vilnius,” said Latushko.

Calling this an “unwarranted decision”, France said it had taken proportionate measures against Belarusian diplomats in France. Belarusian Ambassador to France Igor Fisenko has been recalled to Minsk for consultations, the Belarusian foreign ministry said.

Yuras Karmanau in Kiev, Ukraine contributed

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