EU Foreign Ministers Failed To Decide On Sanctions Against Belarus

The foreign ministers of the EU countries did not make a decision on the imposition of sanctions against Belarus, which was blocked by the representative of Cyprus, European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said on 21 September.

Top European diplomat Josep Borrell once again stressed that the EU does not recognize the results of the presidential election in Belarus and the legitimacy of the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko.

“In the meeting, we discussed it and the Ministers sent a strong signal: we do not recognise Lukashenko’s legitimacy as a result of elections that we consider falsified – as clear as that. We consider these elections falsified, we do not recognise the results and so we do not recognise Lukashenko’s legitimacy,” Borrell said.

He also expressed solidarity with the Belarusian people in the current situation, and also welcomed the desire of the people to hold new, fair and transparent election under the OSCE’s supervision. According to Borrell, the foreign ministers of the European Union countries were extremely impressed by the determination and perseverance of the Belarusians, despite the brutal and increasingly lawless repression.

He stressed that the EU states did not have a hidden agenda at this meeting, and the EU does not plan to interfere in the internal affairs of the country and respects the independence and sovereignty of Belarus, but wants to help people who demand the opportunity to independently choose leaders in fair election. They also discussed the revision of the EU relations with Belarus and further financial support for civil society and independent media in the country.

Borrell said that, although a clear intention was previously declared to make a decision on the imposition of sanctions against Belarus, it was not implemented during today’s meeting, “because the required unanimity was not reached”. According to the EU’s foreign policy chief, this issue will be considered by the heads of states and governments at the European Council later this week for their political guidance.

Later, answering journalists’ questions, Borrell confirmed that the decision was hindered by the position of Cyprus, the only country that opposed it. Cyprus, in turn, requires the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey in connection with gas production in the Cyprus economic zone of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Responding to the question of what does the non-recognition of Lukashenko as the legitimate head of Belarus mean in practice, Borrell compared the EU’s position on Belarus to the situation in Venezuela, where the EU recognizes Juan Guaido, the head of the country’s parliament, as legitimate president. Borrell said that this would undoubtedly lead to a decrease in the level of diplomatic relations.