Sanctions on Belarus will affect transit and logistics sector: ambassador

Imposing new economic sanctions against Belarus will mostly affect transit and logistics in Belarus and neighboring countries, Latvian ambassador to Belarus Einārs Semanis told Latvian Radio May 28.

“In reality, we are neighboring lands. And the agenda for economic cooperation between neighboring lands practically covers almost all areas of the economy. And if we take neighboring regions, such as the Vitebsk area and Latgale, then you know there is a very close cooperation in all directions. Even when the [Covid-19] crisis began last spring and summer, I wouldn't say that economic cooperation somehow declined. There are some changes, yes, but all in all this economic cooperation, because of different contracts and suchlike, has continued,” said Semanis.

At the same time, the ambassador said that, in diplomatic terminology, relations between Latvia and Belarus have been frozen. However, he Latvian diplomats have not been placed on the Belarusian blacklist, which gives hope – with the normalization of relations between the two countries, diplomats could return to their embassies. It is unknown how long that would take.

Compared to the events in October last year, when Belarus called on Poland and Lithuania to summon their ambassadors for consultations, the situation with relations between Latvia and Belarus is “very bad and the scene is very sad” because the embassy work of Lithuania and Poland was not interrupted, Semanis said. The work of the Latvian Embassy in Minsk has now been suspended. At the moment, there is one employee in the embassy who is responsible for administrative matters.

The ambassador also said that, given that both Latvia and Belarus have signed serious international agreements related to human rights and freedom, Latvia cannot be indifferent to events in neighboring countries.

Also Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) told Latvian Television that, looking at developments in Belarus, there could be a reduction in cargo volumes at Latvian ports.

In general, commenting on transport from Belarus, the Minister stated: “Over the last year, this regime is unpredictable in its activities. Consequently, we have no comment on what could change. We are prepared for all scenarios.”

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