Sanctions show EU does not accept Belarus president, willing to take measures, Dutch PM says
After weeks of negotiations, the European Union member states finally agreed on sanctions against Belarus. The sanctions "say to Belarus: we do not recognize this president and we are prepared to take far-reaching measures," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said to ANP.
According to the EU, Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko stole the election victory in August and the EU does not accept the results of that election. The EU also demands an end to Lukashenko's violent crackdown on protesters.
For this reason, 40 Belarus citizens, excluding Lukashenko himself, will be banned from traveling to the EU. Their bank accounts with foreign banks will also be frozen.
Lukashenko himself escaped sanctions because a number of Belarus' neighboring countries wanted to keep diplomatic channels open - if Lukashenko remains in power, they want to still be able to communicate with the regime in Minsk.
It took the EU weeks to come with these sanctions, because Cyprus refused to agree until firmer action is also taken against Turkey. This gave the 40 people now hit by sanctions weeks to prepare, according to the news wire. Rutte said that this again showed why Member States should not have veto power on sanctions.
"Now there is unanimity," Rutte said to RTL Nieuws. "It is good that it succeeded, and it makes it even more necessary to take these kinds of decisions on sanctions not by unanimity, but by qualified majority."
Cyprus is in conflict with Turkey over gas drilling in the Mediterranean. The EU did not take sanctions against Turkey as of yet, but agreed to do so if the situation escalates.
"If Turkey were to continue with illegal drilling, then Europe is prepared to look at the entire range of instruments available," Rutte said to the broadcaster. "Sanctions against Turkey may also be in order."
The EU leaders will discuss this issue at the planned summit in December.