On the first working day of their two-day Brussels summit, October 1, the EU heads of state and government decided to impose sanctions against Belarus because of the contested August presidential election and violence against those who participated in the ensuing actions. Personal sanctions were imposed on about 40 Belarusian persons responsible for ordering or participating in state violence against protesters. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is not on the sanctions list, but “the EU is closely monitoring the situation, so it may change,” Charles Michel said.
At the summit, the introduction of anti-Belarusian sanctions was initially hindered by Cyprus, which advocated action against Turkey.
French President Emmanuelle Macron said after the meeting that the non-inclusion of Belarusian President Lukashenko in the sanctions list was a conscious decision. The EU wants the Belarusian president to agree to the mediation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to start negotiations with the opposition. The way is open for him to make that decision.
According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the entry into force of sanctions against Belarus shows that the EU is strongly opposed to those who destroy democracy. Speaking about sanctions against Belarus, Merkel noted that sanctions measures are really important for those who fight for freedom of speech in the country.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in connection with the crisis in Belarus that the Minsk leadership must recognize that the elections did not meet international standards and that it must initiate new free elections. He added that the EU was ready to provide economic support to Belarus, but it required further steps from Minsk.
Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel called the European Council decisions on Belarus a step forward but stressed that “it is important not to deceive our neighbors. That is, the sanctions are symbolic rather than practical in nature.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawecki expressed satisfaction that the European Council, after much debate, adopted the economic plan proposed by Poland for Belarus. Such a plan should bring Belarus closer to the EU.