The Council of Europe suspends all relations with Belarus following the war in Ukraine

PARIS (18 March): The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has suspended all relations with Belarus for its active participation in Russia’s war against Ukraine, the intergovernmental organization announced on Thursday 17 March.

Belarus will no longer be able to participate in any meetings, activities or partial agreements of the council, Anadolu Agency quoted the statement as saying.

The action came a day after the committee suspended the membership of the Russian Federation for its aggression against Ukraine.

The committee also decided to cease all technical cooperation with Minsk and to maintain relations only with Belarusian civil society and the opposition in exile, independent media and human rights activists.

The decision will have an impact on the representation and participation of Belarus as an observer state in the European Pharmacopoeia Commission and in the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), in certain meetings of the Group of States against corruption (GRECO) and as an associate member of the Venice Conference Commission.

Representatives of Belarus will also lose with immediate effect access to the office located on the premises of the Council’s headquarters.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Vatican City are among the only European countries not to have joined the Strasbourg-based Council, which has 47 member countries.

Minsk is however a state party to 12 council legal instruments, including in the areas of good governance, anti-corruption, human trafficking, culture, education and sports.

The council follows strict membership rules, requiring full commitment from potential members to human rights, the principles of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.

Belarus was denied full membership because it continues to apply the death penalty and limit democratic freedoms.

Ukrainian authorities have claimed that Belarusian troops have joined Russia’s assault and that the country faces shelling from its northern border.

The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Minsk for being a co-aggressor and helping Russia in the war. Belarus has also hosted negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.