EU discusses sanctions against Belarus

The European Union is considering sanctions against Belarus over allegations of manipulation in the country's presidential election. EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell has said the election was neither free nor fair. He also criticised brutality on the part of law enforcement authorities and the mass imprisonment of demonstrators and journalists. What steps should Brussels take?

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Expressen (SE) /

Freeze accounts and ban travel

The EU must up the pressure on the Belarus leadership, Expressen demands:

“Before the coronavirus pandemic, the EU foreign ministers made a fundamental decision that makes it possible to punish those who violate human rights in third countries through the so-called Magnitsky rules which allow the freezing of their capital and the issue of travel bans. As businessman Bill Browder, the most outspoken proponent of the rules, noted this week, they're a perfect fit for Lukashenko and his cronies. The EU should speed up the legislative process, pass the law and apply it without delay.”

Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR Online) (EE) /

Our revolutionary zeal won't help

Hopes that the threat of sanctions on the part of EU politicians will have any effect whatsoever on the future of Belarus are in vain, journalist Indrek Kiisler writes in ERR:

“I'm concerned about the zeal with which the flames of revolution in Belarus are being fanned in Estonia and the West. ... Certainly, a yearning for freedom is legitimate, nevertheless it must be stressed that Belarus is not Ukraine. Belarus is an appendage of Russia, and in the end its fate will be decided in the Kremlin. Moscow won't hesitate to put an end to the regime and the state of Belarus if it goes against Russia's interests. ... Of course, most Estonian politicians want to come across as champions of democracy. But it's particularly sickening to watch when you know that all their lofty speeches are aimed chiefly at home audiences.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Appoint Warsaw as mediator

Commenting in Adevărul, political expert Radu Carp reminds readers of Poland's offer to mediate for the EU in Minsk:

“Up to now Europe's leaders have not made an official comment on the proposal, which is to be discussed at the next EU summit. But by then it could be too late. Poland has already had experience in mediating in Ukraine in 2014, even if it did not bring the desired result of stopping the brutal suppression of the democratic opposition back then. Even now, EU mediation will not be able to resolve the situation in Minsk, but it is a necessary symbolic gesture. The mere presence of EU representatives in Minsk will send a message to civil society that the EU is monitoring the situation closely and wants to participate in the democratisation of Belarus.”