Brussels wants to deprive Minsk of loans, to impose sanctions against Russian citizens

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko chairs a meeting at a Strategic Management Centre of the Defence Ministry in Minsk, Belarus August 15, 2020. Maxim Guchek/BelTA/Handout via REUTERS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BRUSSELS, Sep 17, 2020, TASS. The European Parliament (EP) has drafted a lengthy resolution on the situation in Belarus. The document was published on Wednesday, the vote will be held at a parliamentary session on Thursday, TASS reported.

In this document, the European parliament calls on the EU institutions to delegitimize President Alexander Lukashenko as much as possible, to impose tough sanctions not only against him and the republic, but also against the Russians, supporting the Lukashenko government. The European parliament also calls on the EU institutions to block financing of Minsk through all available channels, and to provide all possible support to the Belarusian opposition.

Resolutions of the European Parliament are advisory and are not binding even for EU institutions. The final wording of the resolution may differ as the process of amending this document is not yet complete.

The document contains a lot of proposals how to put pressure on Belarus. In particular, the European parliament “deplores the fact that Belarus has already loaded nuclear fuel into the first reactor of the Astravyets nuclear power plant and is planning to start producing energy in November 2020.”

It suggests that the European Council should freeze “any EU fund transfers to the current Belarusian Government and state-controlled projects and stopping EIB, EBRD and other loans to the current regime,” as well as hold “a donors’ conference for democratic Belarus.” Brussels also calls on the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to withdraw its decision to hold the 2021 World Ice Hockey Championship partially in Belarus.”

The European parliament is trying to challenge the latest agreements between Moscow and Minsk claiming that Alexander Lukashenko “has no political or moral mandate to enter into any further contractual relations on behalf of Belarus, including with Russian authorities, which could threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belarus.”

The European Parliament refuses to recognize the results of the presidential elections in Belarus. The draft resolution states that “systematic irregularities and violations of international electoral standards were reported during polling, including intimidation of voters.”

According to the draft resolution, the European Parliament “will not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as president of Belarus once his current term of office expires” and “welcomes the Coordination Council as an interim representation of the people demanding democratic change in Belarus that is open to all political and social stakeholders.”

In this respect, the European Parliament “calls on the Commission, the VP/HR and the Council to provide assistance to Belarus’ democratic opposition, including the Coordination Council led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.”

According to the draft resolution, the European Parliament “strongly supports EU sanctions against individuals responsible for the falsification of the election results and the repression in Belarus, including Alexander Lukashenko; calls on the Council to implement without delay, and in close coordination with international partners, broad and effective sanctions against all Belarusian perpetrators of election fraud, violence and repression in Belarus.

It also “calls on the Council to follow the example of the Baltic States, which included Lukashenko in their sanctions list, as well as “to explore the possibility of including Russian citizens who are directly involved in supporting the Lukashenko regime in Belarus.”

It is very likely that this resolution will be adopted practically unchanged, since the leading factions of the European Parliament have very radical attitude towards Minsk. However, the chances of fulfilling even a small share of the MEPs’ appeals are small, since such resolutions are not binding even for the institutions of the European Union.

The EU has failed to approve the black list of Belarusian officials Brussels considers “responsible for election fraud and police violence.” The list was made on August 14 but the introduction of restrictions was blocked by Cyprus. In exchange for the approval Cyprus requires the adoption of sanctions against Turkey, which is conducting geological exploration of gas fields in the disputed waters off the island. The EU is trying with all its might to delay the approval of measures against Ankara, because in case of aggravation of relations, Turkey can let up to 3 million migrants detained at the border and accommodated in camps on its territory, flee to Europe.

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