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Lukashenka’s continued repression must be met with stronger EU sanctions

Date

05 Oct 2021

Sections

Global Europe

In the plenary today, the Socialists and Democrats called on the EU member states to implement much stronger sanctions against Belarus President Lukashenka’s regime, to close the existing loopholes and further cut the financial resources of the regime.

One year after the stolen elections in Belarus, the unabated systematic repression and impunity in the country persist. The main opposition figures are in prison or in exile and there are more than 700 political prisoners, including many independent journalists.

Regarding the dramatic situation with refugees and migrants on the Belarus-Poland border, where at least five people have died recently, the S&Ds condemned Lukashenka’s regime for using migrants as a tool for political purposes. At the same time they urged the Polish authorities to treat migrants with dignity, comply with the Geneva Convention, accept Frontex’s assistance and allow journalists and NGOs monitor the situation on the ground.

Robert Biedroń, S&D MEP and the chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Belarus, said:

“For over a year, Belarusian citizens have been screaming for freedom, fighting for democracy and begging for our support. Unfortunately, we have let them down. The EU approach of gradually increasing sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime has not managed to change its behaviour and only led to a growing sense of impunity and mass repressions. 

“We cannot give up on Belarus. It’s time for much stronger EU sanctions, targeting a substantially larger number of entities and officials responsible for violent repression. We must close the loopholes, in particular when it comes to sanctions on potash and petroleum products, and against the financial sector. At the same time, we must increase assistance, including financial and legal, to Belarusian civil society who, despite the repression and violence, are not losing hope.”

Pedro Marques, S&D MEP and vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, added:

“Lukashenka has proved that he will do everything to keep power. Now, he has completely crossed the boundaries of humanity, instrumentalising human beings by smuggling migrants across Belarus’s borders. This is unacceptable. The EU must react, strengthening and broadening the sanctions against those responsible for the state-organised smuggling and the people that continue assuring the survival of the regime.

“But this can by no means justify the way the Polish authorities are treating these migrants. The situation on the border of Poland and Belarus is dramatic, with migrants dying during the cold nights without adequate protection.  Many, including children, are stuck in limbo for weeks or are being pushed back. The EU must be clear about what European values are: saving lives, not using people as pawns in the cold-hearted game that Belarus and Poland are playing.”

 

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