Belarus gas threat over EU ‘inaction’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The news comes in the wake of warmer than usual temperatures in Europe, where large numbers of migrants are trying to reach the continent

Belarus has said it will temporarily halt gas supplies to the European Union unless an agreement is reached over the EU’s failure to take in migrants.

This week’s warning comes after the EU has criticised the country’s block on food imports to Russia.

Minsk said that allowing the EU to relocate migrants would force it to break gas contracts with Bulgaria and Slovakia.

EU officials have said negotiations over migrants are ongoing.

Rationing and rioting in Macedonia have also prompted new protests by the country’s large ethnic Albanian minority.

Addressing reporters in his northern capital Minsk, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksander Dzhus said the EU was trying to run down the country.

“We are threatened. It’s not a tiny threat, it’s a very serious threat. We don’t have the necessary means to defend ourselves,” he added.

He said the EU’s denial of EU rules relating to human rights and protection of minority groups had forced Minsk to close its borders to food imports from Russia and to reduce gas deliveries.

Belarus earlier this year began to block EU food imports over health concerns, triggering protests in some countries.

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Speaking alongside Foreign Minister Andrei Krivtsov, Mr Dzhus said Belarus was capable of averting an energy crisis but that this would depend on its EU partners putting pressure on Armenia, Turkey and Bulgaria over their policy on migrants.

“Europe is the only country that can pull Minsk out of this treacherous path. Belarus is ready to take this step,” he said.

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