EU urges sanctions against Belarusian officials

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on Belarus at its session in Strasbourg on Thursday. The document recommends the European Council to ban EU entry for top Belarusian officials and a freeze on their assets in European banks. The ban also applies to security forces officers who, according to the European parliament, are also responsible for the fraud at the presidential election in December and persecution of the opposition.

According to the European lawmakers the sanctions should not be lifted until Belarus frees all oppositionists arrested after protests against the December presidential elections results.

The resolution also urges the European Council, the European Commission and the head of the EU diplomacy to revise their policy regarding Belarus. This implies the introduction of economic sanctions and freezing of financial aid programs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Bank of Investments (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The European lawmakers also propose to suspend Belarus' participation in the Eastern partnership program, if Minsk does not take steps to improve the situation in the country in compliance with the EU norms. The summit of the Eastern partnership organization, which comprises Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, will be held in Budapest on May 27.

At the same time the European parliament considers that the dialogue between the European Commission with Belarus' neighboring countries, which are not the EU members, in particular with Russia and Ukraine, will be reasonable. This dialogue should help to find a balance between the reaction on the lack of democracy and violation of human rights in Belarus and the need to avoid the international isolation of the country. And here is a comment from the head of the Institute of Europe Vladislav Belov.

"my opinion, these sanctions won't bring any result. What is more fruitful is to use different political venues to discuss the ways of transformation of the former Soviet republics. This implies not only the condemnation of Lukashenko's regime but the discussion of the situation on the Post Soviet territory in general, including the situation in Baltic States were human rights and the rights of ethnic minorities are violated. I think in this case the East and the West can find better understanding."

In the resolution the European parliament expressed regret for the decision of the Belarusian authorities to close the office of OSCE mission in Minsk urging them to reconsider it. The European lawmakers also proposed not to hold any international sport competitions in Belarus, such as the 2014 ice-hockey world cup, until political prisoners are not released. The foreign ministries of 27 EU countries are expected to approve the resolution imposing sanctions on Belarus at their session in Brussels on January 31.


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