The European Union is refusing to recognize election results in Belarus and is preparing sanctions over the ‘rigged’ vote and the heavy-handed police response to protests, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has confirmed.
The EU “doesn’t accept election results” in Minsk, Borrell tweeted on Friday evening, adding that work has begun on “sanctioning those responsible for violence [and] falsification” of the vote.
Concluded good and constructive #FAC.Eastern Med: Full solidarity w/ Greece&Cyprus; calling Turkey for immediate deescalation and reengaging in dialogue.Belarus: EU doesn’t accept election results. Work begins on sanctioning those responsible for violence & falsification.
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) August 14, 2020
Borrell’s comments come after a conference call of 27 EU foreign ministers, which ended in a consensus that the Belarus elections “were rigged,” according to Slovakian FM Ivan Korcok.
Important discussion of #EU Foreign Ministers on #Belarus, consensus that elections were rigged, EU 🇪🇺 starts working on individual targeted measures against those responsible for violence against peaceful protesters and the election fraud.
— Ivan Korcok (@IvanKorcok) August 14, 2020
“We cannot ignore the facts of election fraud and the use of force,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said after the meeting, adding that the EU foreign policy unit has been tasked with putting together a list of officials to be sanctioned.
Mass protests began shortly after the presidential election last Sunday, which the incumbent President Aleksandr Lukashenko won in a landslide, according to official results. Thousands have been arrested and two people have died in the five days of unrest, with viral videos showing law enforcement brutally dispersing demonstrators calling for regime change.
Ahead of the ministerial teleconference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for “additional sanctions against those who violated democratic values or abused human rights” in Belarus and expressed confidence the foreign ministers will “demonstrate our strong support for the rights of the people in Belarus to fundamental freedoms and democracy.”
Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has fled to Lithuania after Belarus security services said they intercepted a plot to assassinate her, called for peace on the streets – but insisted the election had been rigged. Lukashenko maintains the vote count was fair.
After consulting with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has called for a new presidential election in Belarus.
“The election in Belarus must be repeated, must be transparent and with the presence of foreign observers,” Babis said on Friday.
Lukashenko has accused outsiders of seeking to organize a ‘color revolution’ in Belarus, and said activists from Poland, Ukraine, Netherlands and even the Russian opposition have arrived to organize the unrest.
“The aggression against the country has already begun,” Lukashenko said during a meeting with the Belarus National Security Council. He also urged Belarusians to stay home for the sake of safety.
“Don’t go out into the streets now! Understand that you and your children are being used as cannon fodder,” said the president, who has ruled Belarus since 1994.
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