EU rejects Belarus elections, readies sanctions
The European Union considers that the presidential elections in Belarus were neither free nor fair and therefore does not recognize their outcome. This was stated by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, after today’s extraordinary summit of the “27”, which took place by video conference.
“We are on your side,” Michel told protesters in Belarus, demanding the departure of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. He also called on the Belarussian authorities to end the violence and to thoroughly investigate the violence in the suppression of the protests. Asked by journalists about Russia’s role, Michel said he had to decide the fate of Belarus in Belarus, not Brussels or Moscow.
The heads of state and government of the “27” agreed that new presidential elections are essential in Belarus, said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, whose country now hosts Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, after the summit. “The negotiations were characterized by unanimity. Everyone acknowledged that the election results were falsified. The elections were not free and cannot be recognized. It is necessary to create the conditions for holding new elections,” Nauseda said, according to the TASS agency.
Michel also confirmed that the EU would soon adopt sanctions against a “significant number” of Belarusian officials responsible for rigging elections and human rights abuses in the crackdown on protests where at least three people have lost their lives, and police have detained thousands.
According to its President Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission will support Belarusians with 53 million euros (about 1.4 billion CZK). This amount will help civil society, victims of persecution, and also the fight against the spread of coronavirus infection.
In Belarus, demonstrations continue for the 11th day against the outcome of the August 9 presidential election, after President Alexander Lukashenko won for the sixth time since 1994. Demonstrators see the result as falsified and call on Lukashenko to resign. Lukashenko’s rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called on the EU not to recognize the outcome of the election before the summit. Lukashenko advised Western leaders to take care of their own countries’ problems.