The possibility of imposing sanctions against officials implicated in falsification and suppression of protests is discussed
European Union foreign ministers on Thursday discussed the imposition of sanctions against Belarus in order to put pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko to hold new elections, while the Belarusian opposition appealed for help to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In an effort to support mass protests against Lukashenko, EU ministers are considering imposing visa and financial sanctions on up to 20 people responsible for suppressing the protests.” The announcement of sanctions did not lead to any changes in the behavior of Belarus,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters, referring to the threat of sanctions voiced by the European Union after the presidential elections on August 9.
The European Union in 2015 eased economic sanctions against Belarus, imposed in 2004, in an attempt to improve relations with Lukashenko, but now hopes to quickly resume the so-called restrictive measures.
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said sanctions should be applied to officials who helped rig the elections, as well as those who ordered the suppression of protests and those accused of violence against demonstrators. The Belarusian authorities deny that the results of the elections, according to which Lukashenko received 80% of the votes, were falsified.
Lukashenko himself is not expected to be included in the sanctions list at this stage.
“The discussion will be important because it is necessary to think carefully about how the level of sanctions should be applied and against whom they will be applied,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrel, referring to the view that sanctions can be challenged in court if they are not properly prepared.
Opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called on Merkel to act as a mediator in resolving the crisis, suggesting she either address Lukashenko directly or explain her view of the situation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, German newspaper Die Welt reported.