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Belarus: Government Protests Czech Visa Delay

Minsk, 11 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Belarus has protested the Czech Republic's delay in deciding whether to grant a visa to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to allow him to attend the NATO summit in Prague on 21-22 November. Lukashenka's spokeswoman, Natalya Petkevich, said in a statement that the very fact the Czechs are considering whether to grant a visa or not is "insulting to Belarus and humiliating to our people."

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry warned that unless the Belarusian delegation is granted visas, "our official reaction will be very harsh, and the consequences will be serious."

The Czech government was expected to decide last week whether to grant Lukashenka a visa for the summit but instead said it would leave the decision up to the Foreign Ministry.