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Statement by the Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus on the entry into force on 21 June 2007 of the EU Council decision temporarily withdrawing access to the generalised tariff preferences from Belarus

Minsk, 21 June 2007

The entry into force on 21 June 2007 of the EU Council decision of 21 December 2006 temporarily withdrawing access to the EU generalised tariff preferences (GSP) from Belarus was met with lack of comprehension in the Republic of Belarus.

This short-sighted step taken by the EU towards its immediate neighbour affects in the first place the interests of ordinary Belarusian citizens and contradicts the willingness declared by Brussels to help improve quality of their life'. Having put the above decision into force, the European Union had ignored the aspirations of rank trade union members at the Belarusian enterprises producing goods that are exported to the EU.

Belarus has maintained a productive dialogue with the International Labour Organisation and undertook a series of practical steps in accordance with ILO recommendations. Belarus and the ILO are continuing common active work in this direction. Shying away from mentioning any sanction measures with regard to Belarus the ILO thus sends a clear signal to its member states and their organisations that sanctions are counter-productive for protecting labour rights.

The EU step runs counter to the mutual interest in economic cooperation of business circles both in the European Union and the Republic of Belarus as well as to the position of a number of Belarusian trade partners from EU member states who are against temporary withdrawal of GSP preferences from Belarus. The economic damage that our partners in the EU would suffer as a result of this decision cannot be justified by opportunistic reasons it is based on.

Belarus regards the EU decision as a temporary one and counts that the objective necessity to establish and develop good neighbourly cooperation with Belarus will spur the European Union to reconsider and reverse it shortly.

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