MINSK/BERLIN | | belarus

MINSK/BERLIN (Own report) - At Berlin's insistence, the EU foreign ministers decided, Monday, to temporarily suspend EU sanctions on Belarus, at least for the next four months. Because of the Ukrainian conflict, Minsk is confronting grave economic and foreign policy difficulties. Because of Russia's economic crisis, Belarusian imports have been drastically reduced and Minsk is forced to seek alternate markets. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is also worried that Russia's overwhelming power could threaten Belarus' independence and therefore, is actively intensifying his own foreign policy initiatives. To acquire alternate markets and maintain its independence, Minsk cannot avoid reinforcing its relations to the West. Berlin's political establishment is closely monitoring these developments. There is an opportunity for "successfully implementing structural changes" in Belarus, as experts declared just before Sunday's presidential elections. In the hope of weakening Minsk's ties to Moscow and strengthening its bonds to the western hegemonic sphere, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a plea for suspending the sanctions. Berlin's political PR is ill at ease with this year's Nobel Literature Prize laureate, Svetlana Alexievich's warning to maintain sanctions - in conformity with EU policy until now. more…

Useless Mouths

BERLIN/MINSK | | belarus

BERLIN/MINSK (Own report) - 70 years after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the German Federal government is still denying the existence of concentration camps run by the Wehrmacht. Over the past four years, alone, the Republic of Belarus has "repeatedly" asked Berlin to recognize the Ozarichi death camp that had been established by the Nazi army as a concentration camp. The German side has regularly rejected this request by referring to ambiguous "judicial obstacles." The Wehrmacht established the Ozarichi Concentration Camp on marshlands in March 1944, where relatives of slave laborers, who had been deported to Germany, were held captive in the open without shelter. The prisoners, most of whom were elderly, sick or children, were considered "unfit to work" and therefore deliberately exposed to death by starvation and cold. Under these circumstances, more than 9,000 people died in just one week. The German army command considered this a success: "We don't need to supply food to useless mouths," declared the Wehrmacht command responsible for the death camp. German historians have called this "one of the worst crimes the Wehrmacht ever committed against civilians." However, the survivors of the Ozarichi concentration camp have never received reparations for their suffering. more…

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/TRIPOLIS/MINSK | | libyenbelarus

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/TRIPOLIS/MINSK (Independent report) - The Berlin Interior Ministry wants to set up detention camps for refugees in central Africa, as well as in eastern Europe. It also wants to extend the current admission strategy on an international basis. This is confirmed by strategy papers of the Berlin Federal Ministry of the Interior and the European Commission. They are thinking of establishing such detention camps in Tanzania, as well as in the Ukraine, Moldava and Belarus. Poverty-stricken refugees are supposed to be gathered in the camps, known as holding centres which supposedly provide protection measures, before possible entry into European core states. There they are checked for their use in the economy and subsequently transferred to either the low-wage European sector, or deported back to their own country of origin. Respective pilot projects ("regional protection programs") are supposed to be evaluated in 2007. According to a statement by the German Interior Minister currently in Office, the intentions borne by Brussels also correspond to "my suggestions greatly in context and direction." German-foreign-policy.com publishes extracts from the strategy papers. more…

DÜSSELDORF/MINSK | | belarus

DÜSSELDORF/MINSK Because of subversive activities, the Belorussian authorities expelled a high-ranking member of the youth organization of Germany's governing social democratic party (SPD) from their country. The young German politician had organised political ,,seminars"financed by the Federal Foreign Office, which supported the opposition to President Lukashenko. Berlin has aimed for years to replace Lukashenko in order to promote the ,,transformation"of Belarus and its subjugation to German interests. more…