- EU considers the past elections "falsified" and condemn the repression of protests.
- Cyprus opposes penalizing Belarus if the same is not done with Turkey
- Lukashenko controversially won the presidential elections.
The European Union foreign ministers on Monday unanimously agreed not to recognize the democratic legitimacy of the Belarusian president, Alexandr Lukashenko, following the country’s recent controversial elections. The said ministers, However, failed to adopt sanctions against the regime after Cyprus vetoed.
“We consider these elections falsified, we do not recognize the results and so we do not recognize Lukashenko’s legitimacy,” said the EU’s high representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, at a press conference at the end of discussions by his team mainly on the Belarusian crisis.
Before the sitting, the ministers received the exiled leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tijanóvskaya, and expressed their support for the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian citizens, so that they can participate in free and fair elections.
Lukashenko controversially won the presidential elections on August 9 with 80.1% of the votes and assumed a sixth term, in elections termed as fraudulent by the opposition and a large part of the international community.
According to Borrell, the European Council is irked by the brutality being meted on the peaceful protesters. He however clarified that the EU does not have “a hidden agenda” nor does it seek “to interfere in the internal affairs of the country”, but rather to support citizens and the beginning of a “dialogue that helps resolve the crisis.
The veto of Cyprus prevented the adoption of sanctions against the Lukashenko regime. The country considers that if Belarus should be sanctioned, Turkey must also be sanctioned for the hydrocarbon exploration it is carrying out in the waters of its exclusive economic zone as confirmed by Borrel.
Borell recalled that at an informal meeting in Berlin at the end of August, the ministers said they would consider sanctions against Ankara if it did not change its behavior. He explained that, at the same time, diplomatic negotiations are underway and ”many countries consider that we must wait for the European Council to address it“, referring to the summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.
Lukashenko, Maduro Case Similar
Borrell pointed out that Lukashenko’s situation is “very similar” to that of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro since the EU does not recognize the “democratic legitimacy” of either of the two.
Borrell explained that though they do not consider that the elections were valid in the two scenarios, The reality is that Mr. Lukashenko in Belarus and Mr. Maduro in Venezuela have control of the Government, the Administration, and the territory, he explained. He considers it important to continue working with them and not withdraw the embassies, although the relations look “degraded”.
Borrell is however hopeful that the next Foreign Council can achieve the necessary unanimity to approve the sanctions against Belarus. He has assured that “it is becoming a personal commitment” because, in his opinion, the credibility of the Foreign Policy of the EU “is at stake”.