March 10, 2006 -- The European Union today threatened to impose further sanctions on Belarus if the March 19 presidential elections is rigged.
EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said at a meeting of the bloc's 25 foreign ministers in Salzburg that the EU stands ready to take new steps if irregularities emerge in the voting.
There are widespread fears that hard-line president of Belarus, Alyksandr Lukashenka, plans to manipulate the ballot in order to stay in power.
Ferrero-Waldner stressed that measures such as stiffer travel bans and a freeze on assets would target only those involved in any rigging of the vote. She said the measures would not affect the people of Belarus, with whom the EU is standing "shoulder to shoulder."
The EU already has travel bans on leaders in Minsk.