Foreign ministers of the European Union have agreed on imposing sanctions on Aleksandr Lukashenko and on Russian officials.
Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) on Monday attended the European Union Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg.
The ministers agreed on imposing sanctions on Lukashenko in response to the situation in Belarus and on Russian officials in response to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
"An important item of the agenda today was the situation in Russia, mainly in light of the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Those responsible for the poisoning of Navalny must be held to account and I am glad that the foreign ministers of the EU supported targeted sanctions on Russian officials for this terrible crime," Reinsalu said.
He said that the EU's policy towards Russia must remain united and principled because Russia was continuing its destructive behavior and disregard for international law, demonstrated by its non-compliance with the Minsk agreements.
On the topic of Belarus, Reinsalu noted that the situation had not improved.
"We as the international community must pay more attention to supporting the democratic future and civil society of Belarus," he said. "As the EU, we must decide how to pursue dialogue with Belarus in the future. In a show of solidarity with Lithuania and Poland, Estonia has already recalled its ambassador for consultations. The sanctions already imposed by the EU are also a welcome step, and today we agreed with our colleagues that Aleksandr Lukashenko, who is responsible for what is happening in Belarus, would be added to the list."
Reinsalu also condemned the armed attacks in Nagorno-Karabakh that continue despite a humanitarian ceasefire.
"The situation must be resolved peacefully, the use of violence must end," the foreign minister said. He said he hoped the parties would return to the negotiating table in the OSCE Minsk Group formula.
The EU foreign ministers also discussed the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean, the situation in Mozambique, the EU-Ukraine Summit, Venezuela, and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
Editor: Helen Wright