Latvia's PM slams 'asymmetrical reaction' after diplomats expelled from Minsk

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and Prime Minister of Latvia Krisjanis Karins talk during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and Prime Minister of Latvia Krisjanis Karins talk during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Copyright Nikolai Petrov/AP
By Jack Parrock
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The entire staff of Latvia's embassy in Minsk was ordered to leave Monday after the red and white flags used by the opposition were raised in Riga.

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Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins has told Euronews that the expulsion of his diplomats from Belarus is a "completely asymmetrical reaction".

The entire staff of Latvia's embassy in Minsk was ordered to leave Monday after the red and white flags used by the opposition were flown in Riga instead of the recognised state flag of Belarus.

The flag-raising happened during a sporting event in the Latvian capital.

Speaking to Euronews outside his hotel in Brussels during a two-day EU leaders summit, Prime Minister Karins said "it takes two to have good neighbourly relations."

The comments came after EU leaders decided to impose all punitive measures against Belarus that were proposed to them over the forced landing of a passenger plane on Sunday.

Belarus authorities pulled opposition journalist Roman Pratasevich from the aircraft and have detained him to face trial for his involvement in the protests after last August's disputed presidential elections.

At the behest of EU leaders, officials in Brussels are now working up economic sanctions which will target companies and entities in Belarus - the intention being to force a change in the policy of the regime of President Lukashenko.

Such sanctions have a detrimental effect on bordering EU countries like Latvia.

But Prime Minister Karins is resolute.

"The broader sanctions will bite us as well, but we're willing to go down that path because what the regime is simply unacceptable."

Watch the interview in the media player above

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