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Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius: The EU needs to expand sanctions against the Belarusian regime

 

On 19 November, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius took part in a video conference of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers. The meeting focused on the political situation in Belarus, the outcome of the US and Moldova elections, the situation in Nagorno Karabakh, the Eastern Mediterranean, and emerging challenges to multilateralism.

As regards the outcome of the US elections, Linkevičius stressed that the US was and had to remain the EU’s main strategic partner: “We need to further strengthen the transatlantic partnership, especially in the areas of security and defence, and seek closer relations between the EU and NATO. Joint efforts are needed to address global challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and hybrid threats. We also need to coordinate with one another policies towards Russia and China, and resume the EU-US trade talks,“ said Linkevičius.

Linkevičius also stressed the need to increase pressure on the Belarusian regime and adopt a third package of the EU sanctions against the Minsk regime as soon as possible in response to Belarus’ political and moral impasse: “More than 25,000 peaceful protesters have been detained, a wide range of prosecutions is taking place and the number of political prisoners has surged to previously unseen heights. Police brutality and violence against the Belarusian people only continue to intensify – the young peaceful protester Raman Bandarenka has been particularly brutally beaten. In the meantime, the government is merely imitating a dialogue with the opposition and drafting amendments to the Constitution. The only way out of the situation is to hold a new, free election,“ said Linkevičius.

Ministers agreed on the need to expand EU sanctions in response to the intensifying repression in Belarus, including not only a larger number of officials responsible for the repression, but also financial supporters of the regime. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell also presented an ongoing review of the EU-Belarus relations.

Ministers also discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the agreement to end military conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The peace deal was signed by Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on 10 November. According to the Acting Foreign Minister Linkevičius, the conflict has only been partially resolved. Thus, it is important to achieve a durable solution to the conflict.

„The only positive outcome is the ceasefire. All other circumstances are causing reasonable concerns. The conflict remains unresolved, while Russia has increased its influence in the region. The ceasefire has been brokered by Russia and Turkey, as the two other Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – the US and France – did not participate in the negotiations. The Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who enjoys strong public support and is inconvenient to the Kremlin, has found the deal incredibly painful,“ said Linkevičius.

 

Please click here to read the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024: https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-12848-2020-INIT/en/pdf

 

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