Belarus sanctions: what reasons for the blockade?

Conflict in the EU persists over sanctions against Minsk in light of the human rights violations in Belarus. While the list of those whose accounts have been blocked and who have been banned from entering the EU now comprises 40 people, Cyprus is blocking the unanimous decision necessary to put the sanctions into effect. Observers speculate about the reasons for the veto and for the lax reactions on the part of Berlin and Brussels.

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Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

Moscow's tentacles reach a long way

Russia could have a hand in this, Lietuvos rytas suggests:

“Lukashenka, who was only too happy to fall into Russia's arms, is showing the West that he is taking neither the peaceful demands for his resignation nor the threats of sanctions seriously. And the dictator has good reasons for that. ... Brussels can't even punish the few dozen or so members of government by banning them from entering the EU and freezing their assets here. The official reason is Cyprus, which is using its veto powers with the euphoric support of Turkey's adversary Greece as long as the EU fails to take action against Ankara. It can't be ruled out that Russia is putting pressure on Greece, and particularly on Cyprus, to block sanctions against Belarus.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Cowardly Germany

Gazeta Wyborcza criticises Berlin's passivity:

“Germany, which has held the EU Council Presidency since July, and thus the possibility to convene summits and set the agenda, is contributing to Russia's advantageous situation. ... High-ranking representatives of the Russian government claim that Navalny may have been poisoned outside Russia. And according to Le Monde, French President Emmanuel Macron was told by Putin that Navalny may have taken the Novichok himself. And Germany? No reaction. Equally incomprehensible is that Germany was unable to convince tiny Cyprus to accept symbolic sanctions against Lukashenka's people. ... Unless, that is, this blockade plays right into Berlin's hands.”

Politis (CY) /

Do you not want to see what's going on?

Columnist Şener Levent addresses the EU and its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell directly in Politis:

“There is no democracy in Turkey anymore. The whole country is completely under Erdoğan's control. The power of both the judiciary and the media have been destroyed. The prisons are full to bursting. Members of parliament and mayors of the HDP, who were elected to office, have been in prison for years. Writers, academics, journalists, artists and lawyers are also in jail. Is it that you see the situation in Belarus, but not in Turkey? Do you also see Bashar al-Assad? And don't you see that Erdoğan has gone far further than Assad with his dictatorship?”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

EU applying double standards

Phileleftheros defends Nicosia's position and criticises the other EU countries:

“The credibility of the EU is supposed to be at stake if it doesn't take action against the third country Belarus. But apparently it's not at stake if no action is taken against Turkey, which is a candidate for EU membership and is intervening militarily in a country that is a member state. No one talks about the fact that the majority of member states are trying to block sanctions against Turkey. ... Cyprus approves of the sanctions against Belarus in principle, but is also stating the obvious: if sanctions are imposed on Belarus, they must also be imposed on Turkey.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Cyprus also harming its own interests

Cyprus is being silly, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung complains:

“The Cypriot government gives the impression that the EU is blocked in terms of foreign policy. Turkey will see this as encouragement to be even more ruthless in the gas conflict. After all, little Cyprus can only protect its interests vis-à-vis the much larger Turkey if it has a truly capable EU at its side. Or is the Cypriot resistance directly related to Belarus? For many years, the Mediterranean island has been doing business as a transit point for all kinds of murky assets from post-Soviet oligarchs and politicians. Is there also money there belonging to Belarusian officials who figure on the EU sanctions list?”

La Stampa (IT) /

This is why von der Leyen is right

That's blackmail, La Stampa complains:

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya arrived in Brussels Monday morning to ask the EU for more support in her struggle against the regime of Alexander Lukashenka. ... But the 27 foreign ministers were unable to achieve the unanimity required to implement the announced sanctions against those involved in the torture and the organisation of the August 9 elections. Cyprus, protesting the lack of sanctions against Turkey, is holding hostage the list of 40 figures who are to be targeted. This is a kind of blackmail that comes just a few days after Ursula von der Leyen's call to abolish unanimity in foreign policy decisions on the subject of sanctions.”