Over the course of these two days we met with Belarusian officials as well as members of the opposition, civil society, human rights activists, and the business community. Our message to everyone has been: the United States supports Belarus’s independence as well as its path toward a more democratic and prosperous society.
In response to the August release of political prisoners, the U.S., in coordination with the EU, suspended sanctions on nine Belarusian companies. This step is limited, and future-oriented, and focused on supporting the Belarusian economy.
We encourage the Government of Belarus to take additional positive steps. We remain convinced that such positive steps will strengthen Belarusian sovereignty and independence, which the United States unequivocally and firmly supports, and provide the foundation for continued improved relations between our two countries.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Robert Berschinski:
As my colleague has stated, we have had a very productive visit in a moment that I would describe as a very important one in relations between the United States and Belarus.
The Government of Belarus has taken the positive step of releasing the six political prisoners. We in the U.S. have responded with a positive step of our own. We hope that this marks the beginning of a virtuous cycle—a positive step in response to a positive step. The United States stands ready to take additional steps should the government of Belarus demonstrate progress with respect to democracy and human rights. Likewise, if the government backslides, the United States can elect to reinstate sanctions. So the government of Belarus faces a choice, and we are willing to work with them in good faith.
On the basis of our meetings with officials, civil society and human rights activists, political party leaders and business community I can say that this has been a fruitful trip, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with the government and people of Belarus in the coming months.