After European Union foreign affairs ministers agreed on the need to impose sanctions on those responsible, an extraordinary meeting will take place to consider how the EU will respond with one voice to the state’s violence against peaceful protestors and to manipulated election results. The EU does not accept the election results and has called upon the Belarusian political leadership to participate in a genuine and inclusive dialogue with its citizens.
In the invitation to the meeting, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, condemned the violence against protesters. He wrote:
The people of Belarus have the right to decide on their future and freely elect their leader. Violence against protesters is unacceptable and cannot be allowed.
The European Union is of the opinion that the presidential elections, held in the Republic of Belarus on 9 August, were neither free or fair. The High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, published a statement in this regard. Credible reports from domestic election observers show that the electoral process did not meet the international standards expected of an OSCE participating state.
Hundreds of thousands of Belarusian citizens have taken to the streets to demonstrate peacefully for their democratic rights and to protest repressive countermeasures taken by the leadership in Minsk. Those countermeasures included disproportionate violence that has left at least two dead and countless others injured. Thousands of protesters were arrested.
On 14 August, EU foreign ministers confirmed that they did not accept the results of the election, as presented by the Belarus Central Election Commission. The foreign ministers were unanimous that those responsible for violence, repression and the manipulation of election results must be sanctioned.
The EU had already decided to take restrictive measures in 2006, including financial sanctions and travel prohibitions against President Lukashenko and other officials. In 2011, these were extended to include further persons and organisations. The sanctions were provisionally repealed in 2016 but, after the agreement to impose new sanctions, a further list is now being compiled of individuals involved in the manipulation of election results and the violence against demonstrators.
The ministers called on the Belarusian authorities to stop the violence against peaceful protesters and to release detainees. Belarusian political leadership must take part in a genuine and inclusive dialogue with all parts of Belarusian society, in order to prevent further violence. The EU supports the Belarusian people in their desire for democratic change.