On 12 October 2015, EU foreign ministers agreed to extend the suspension of certain sanctions currently in place against Belarus. The suspension is set to stay in place for four months, although an arms embargo will remain in force.
The decision to continue the suspension of the sanctions follows the release of six political prisoners in August, which the European Union had been requesting for some time, and the presidential elections in Belarus which, according to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, occurred with less repression than in previous elections. However, as the High Representative/Vice-President of the EU acknowledged in a joint statement with Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the same day, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has reported that Belarus has a considerable way to go towards fulfilling its OSCE commitments for democratic elections.
Whilst the EU foreign ministers have agreed the suspension in principle, a decision will need to be taken by the Council of the European Union before the suspension (and extension) are formally in place – this is due to take place on 21 October - and therefore the position may change in the interim, although this is considered unlikely. A further update will follow when a decision is taken.