EU leaders approve sanctions against Belarus ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (left) with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (left) with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Source: Republic of Estonia Government.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) took part in an extraordinary European Council meeting on Thursday, where European Union leaders, among many other things, extended sanctions to 40 more Belarusian officials deemed responsible for election fraud and violent suppression of peaceful protests in Belarus.

At Friday's extraordinary European Council meeting, European Union leaders approved sanctions against some 40 Belarusian officials deemed responsible for election fraud and the violent suppression of peaceful protests after president Alexander Lukashenko was reelected for his sixth term in elections largely deemed rigged and undemocratic.

President of the European Council Charles Michel confirmed that Lukashenko himself is not under these approved sanctions. "No, Lukashenko is not on the list currently. But we are obviously monitoring the situation, following developments."

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) told ERR that the European Council showed it can still come together and reach an agreement when it comes to difficult topics, such as the Belarusian elections.

Ratas said: "I consider this a large step and message. In addition, there were many messages that the election results are not recognised and honest, new and transparent elections are needed."

He added that shocking violence has been aimed at the Belarusian people for eight weeks now.

The prime minister added: "Another big step we took was expressing solidarity for Greece and Cyprus, showing that the EU has a clear direction in this complicated question."

The council discussed EU relations with Turkey and the situation regarding illegal drilling in the Mediterranean Sea. Ratas said the tense situation on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean is worrying and he considered it important to stop the Turkish illegal drilling.

He said: "Estonia wants the eastern part of the Mediterranean to be safe and stable. For that to happen, tensions must be reduced. Greece and Turkey have also taken steps to prepare for direct communication," adding that Estonia stands in solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.

Among other things, EU leaders also condemned the Novichok poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

The list of 40 sanctioned Belarusian officials can be viewed here.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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