France’s ambassador to Minsk, Nicolas de Lacoste, left Belarus on October 17. His departure came in the wake of the Belarusian authorities’ unilateral decision to end the accreditation he had been issued on August 31, 2020, due to the fact that the Ambassador had not presented his letters of accreditation to Mr. Lukashenko.
Consistent with the joint European position not to recognize the legitimacy of the presidential election result in August 2020, the French Ambassador had indeed not presented his letters of accreditation to Mr. Lukashenko. A copy of those letters had been presented to the Belarusian Foreign Minister, in accordance with diplomatic rules.
This unjustified decision by the Belarusian authorities follows several negative decisions limiting the scope of actions by our post in Minsk. Proportionate measures were therefore taken by the French authorities with respect to the Belarusian diplomatic mission in France, which the Belarusian authorities were informed of.
On October 18, Nicolas de Lacoste will assume his duties as Special Envoy for Belarus, as our Embassy in Belarus continues to carry out its duties in Minsk. As it has done since August 2020, in close conjunction and consistent with the position defined by its EU partners, France will continue to stand by the Belarusian people in support of a lasting political solution to the crisis in Belarus.
Q: Can you confirm that the French ambassador to Belarus left the country on October 17? Why? What is the future of the French Embassy in Minsk?
Q: Regarding the expulsions of ambassadors, do the same conditions hold for France’s European partners? In other words, are other new ambassadors refusing to submit their letters of accreditation, and are there European ambassadors already in place who were withdrawn? What else has the French Embassy in Minsk done?
A: I refer you to the statement I made today.