EU lifts sanctions against Belarus

The European Union will let most of its sanctions against Belarus expire on the grounds that ahead of Lukashenko's re-election in 2015 the number of human rights abuses in the country decreased and political prisoners were freed. But is lifting the punitive measures the right solution?

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Lietuvos žinios (LT) /

EU playing into Kremlin's hands

The EU resolution indirectly benefits the Kremlin, the Lithuanian MEP Petras Auštrevičius criticises in the conservative daily Lietuvos žinios:

“Political prisoners will be released but not rehabilitated. The opposition's hands are still tied. And nothing has improved as regards media freedom or the judiciary either. On the other hand playing the 'Belarus card' now will have far wider repercussions. In my view after the lifting of the sanctions against Belarus the lifting of sanctions against Russia will also be reconsidered. It's not for nothing that not only Minsk but also Moscow is rubbing its hands in glee in the wake of this EU resolution. There is no doubt that in strengthening the regime of Putin's ally Lukashenko, we are also supporting the Kremlin.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Sanctions ultimately ineffective

The sanctions against Belarus have done nothing to improve the state of human rights in the country, the national-conservative daily Neatkarīgā believes:

“The sanctions have reinforced the current political system in Belarus to such an extent that in the last year Lukashenko has had no qualms about releasing some of his opponents from prison. Although human rights also played a role in the imposition of sanctions, all in all the measures have only worsened the EU's standing in the country. Because not the state but the entrepreneurs and employees were worst hit. ... Hopefully Belarus will assess the removal of the sanctions correctly. It has already shown that it can get along well with both Russia and the EU. Probably relations between the EU and Belarus will remain on the level of [what German Foreign Minister Steinmeier termed] 'critical interdependency'. And in that case diplomatic considerations will no doubt continue to play a bigger role than democracy and human rights.”