Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has welcomed a decision by the European Union to abandon most sanctions against the country over its rights and democracy record.
"The European Union realized that it is time to abandon this block thinking and stop the confrontation with Belarus," Lukashenka said on February 16. "They made a decision that is absolutely satisfactory for us."
The EU foreign ministers agreed on February 15 that 170 Belarusians, including Lukashenka, along with three blacklisted Belarusian companies should be permanently removed from the EU list of those facing asset freezes and visa bans.
However, the ministers left an arms embargo in place and extended for another year sanctions targeting four Belarusian officials suspected of involvement in opposition disappearances more than a decade ago.
The sanctions were set to expire at the end of this month, following a four-month suspension in October.