Hungary seeks to block EU embargo on arms trade with Belarus

Hungary seeks to block European Union's embargo on the sales of weapons to Belarus, reports the Belarusian service of Radio Liberty.

The EU introduced this measure in 2011 along with personal travel bans and assets freeze against 174 Belarusian officials and business people in response to the unprecendented crackdown on the opposition and civil society during the post-election protests. 

Brussels lifted the travel and financial restrictions in March 2015 in light of Belarus' role in mediating the conflict in eastern Ukraine and after Minsk had released all of its political prisoners. However, the arms trade embargo remained in place and was unanimously renewed every year by all EU member states.

The decision on lifting or renewing the emargo is to be taken by 28 February. Budapest is reluctant to extend the ban. Hungary also played a crucial role earlier to lift the sanctions on the exports of EU-made sport rifles to Belarus.

Hungary is ready to back the extension of the arms trade ban for Belarus in exchange for the speedy signing of the framework agreement on cooperation between the EU and Belarus.

However, Lithuania is blocking the signing of the framework deal due to its harsh opposition to the nuclear power plant being constructed in Astraviec, Belarus next to the border with Lithuania.