BERLIN (AP) — Belarus has ordered two German educational organizations to close, part of its retaliation against EU sanctions imposed over a diversion of a passenger jet by the ex-Soviet nation’s authorities in order to seize a dissident passenger.
Germany on Wednesday deplored Belarus’ decision to demand an end to all activities of the Goethe Institute, which promotes German language and culture worldwide, and the German Academic Exchange Service.
“This step will contribute to further isolating Belarus internationally,” the German Foreign Ministry said. “The victims of this decision are Belarusian citizens, who are being denied further opportunities for social and cultural activity.”
The ministry renewed its call for Belarusian authorities “to enter a serious and inclusive national dialogue and discuss the legitimate demands of the protest movement.”
Last week, the European Union slapped new bruising economic sanctions on Belarus over last month’s diversion of a passenger jet to arrest dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich. The sanctions target the country’s top export items, including potash — a common fertilizer ingredient, petroleum products and tobacco industry exports.
Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has denounced the EU sanctions as part of a “hybrid war” waged by the West against Belarus.