The main opposition leader of Belarus urged the European Union on Monday to approve sanctions on officials accused of rigging the presidential election last month, travelling to Brussels to tell the bloc's foreign ministers to show courage.
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Despite a sixth straight weekend of mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko over the disputed Aug. 9 vote, the EU has yet to follow through on a threat to impose sanctions on a list of some 40 Belarusian officials.
"EU leaders have reasons not to push sanctions but I asked them to be more brave," Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the election, told reporters after meeting foreign ministers.
"Sanctions are important in our fight because it's part of pressure that could force the so-called authorities to start dialogue with us in the opposition council."
This morningministers met with #Belarus' National Leader S. Tikhanovskaya. She very clearly expressed request of support to Belorusians who demand free elections, to release political prisoners, to support civil society & introduce sanctions against those involved in crackdown. pic.twitter.com/uwfH5KOS7j
— Linas Linkevicius (@LinkeviciusL) September 21, 2020
The EU said in late August it would impose asset freezes and travel bans on Belarusian officials. But sanctions require agreement among all 27 member states, and the Belarus issue has become entangled in a debate over separate sanctions against Turkey, sought by Cyprus in a dispute over energy resources.
Cyprus says it supports sanctions on Belarus but wants the bloc to act over Turkey as well.
"Our reaction to any kind of violation of our core, basic values and principles cannot be a la carte. It needs to be consistent," Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said.