Europe is famous for its political fault lines, and a new one has now emerged: the divide between the ‘core EU’ and peripheral countries subservient to the US on foreign policy, such as the UK, Poland, and the three Baltic states.
According to German mainstream newspaper Die Welt, citing its own sources, the bloc’s three most powerful members have united to overrule tough proposals on Belarus, which were pushed by Warsaw and the Baltic capitals. Berlin, Paris, and Rome have refused to sanction Belarusian president-elect Alexander Lukashenko over last month’s disputed election.
Germany, France and Italy stated that “despite the circumstances, communication channels with Lukashenko should be kept open,” because, in their opinion, his blacklisting would lead to a complete suspension of dialogue with Minsk, Die Welt explained.
The conservative daily – which, rather ironically, was founded as a propaganda sheet for British occupying forces in the 1940s – said the East Europeans had pressed for the introduction of restrictive measures against the Belarusian leader. Perhaps not coincidentally, Washington has been openly pushing for Lukashenko to be ousted.
In an interview published on Thursday on the Foreign Policy platform, the US Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, James S Gilmore III, insisted that Lukashenko should be told he has to leave office. “What we have [to do] right now is to try to persuade Lukashenko that he cannot be the president of a country under these circumstances. He thinks that a fraudulent election followed by brutal suppression of the people is good enough,” Gilmore said.
In mid-August, it became known that in the aftermath of the protest rallies in Belarus, the EU was considering a list of 15 to 20 Belarusian officials who would be prohibited from entering the bloc’s territory and having access to its banking system. EU sanctions against Belarus for human rights violations had previously been in effect from 2004 to 2016, and this blacklist fluctuated, at times including as many as 130 individuals.
At an informal meeting in Berlin on August 27-28, the leaders of the foreign ministries of the EU member states made a decision to compile a list of sanctions to be levied against Belarus as soon as possible.