Brussels, 13 July 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Seven Central and Eastern European countries have linked themselves to a move by the European Union to stop issuing entry visas to Belarus government officials.
EU officials agreed to recommend the entry visa ban last Thursday, and a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels is expected to formally accept that recommendation today.
Our correspondent in Brussels reports that in a joint declaration the seven EU candidate members from Central and East Europe said they share the EU's objectives in this matter. They are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Candidate members Iceland, Norway and Cyprus also joined the declaration, but Poland did not, saying such action is not compatible with its present chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka today criticized the EU move as unreasonable. It is the latest act in the diplomatic row between Minsk and major western countries, including the U.S. The row started when Belarus denied ambassadors access to their residences in Minsk's diplomatic compound.