European Union foreign ministers said on October 12 that the bloc was ready to take further restrictive measures against entities and high-ranking officials in Belarus, including Aleksandr Lukashenko, if the situation in that country does not improve.
The EU ministers reiterated that the August 9 presidential elections in Belarus were neither free nor fair and that Lukashenko lacks any democratic legitimacy.
“The Council (of the EU) reiterates its full support for Belarus’s sovereignty and independence and underlines the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their president through new, free and fair elections, without external interference.”
The ministers strongly condemned the violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, and called for the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners.
“Against this background, the conclusions recall the restrictive measures imposed on 40 individuals responsible for the fraudulent nature of the presidential elections and the violent crackdown on peaceful protests, and state the EU’s readiness to take further restrictive measures against entities and high-ranking officials, including Aleksandr Lukashenko, if the situation does not improve.”
The EU will scale down bilateral cooperation with the Belarusian authorities at central level, increase its support for the Belarusian people and civil society, and recalibrate its bilateral financial assistance accordingly, the statement said.
In line with that, the EU has immediately made available additional financial resources for victims of violence, civil society organisations and independent media.
The conclusions of the meeting of EU foreign ministers highlight that the EU is ready to substantially step up its political engagement, sectoral cooperation, and financial assistance to Belarus provided that its authorities respect the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, by stopping repression and abuses, promoting a serious, credible and inclusive political process resulting in free and fair elections under the OSCE/ODIHR’s observation, and providing guarantees for respect for human rights.
“Finally, the EU calls on the Belarusian authorities to engage in an inclusive national dialogue and stands ready to support a peaceful democratic transition with a variety of instruments, including a comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus,” the statement said.
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