EU suspends sanctions on Belarus

EU will suspend its sanctions on Belarus for four months including those on President Alexander Lukashenko

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko seen at a news conference during a presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, October 11, 2015.

The European Union said on Thursday it is ready to suspend its sanctions on 170 Belarussians and as well as President Alexander Lukashenko, until February 29 2016.

The decision is to take effect on October 31, after being announced in the EU's Official Journal.

The 28-nation bloc noted that "the context of improving EU-Belarus relations" was the reason for the decision.

EU governments have "suspended for four months the asset freeze and travel ban applying to 170 individuals and the asset freeze applying to three entities in Belarus," announced the Council of the European Union.

The move is a major step in ending nine years of international isolation for Lukashenko, as it comes after the central European nation's unexpected release of political prisoners earlier this year, seen as an effort to fix the government’s relations with the West.

However, an arms embargo will continue and four employees of Lukashenko's security service, who are thought to be responsible for the disappearances of political opponents will not benefit from the sanctions relief.

The EU will review the decision again in February and if the bloc sees no deterioration in human rights, the rule of law or press freedoms the process will continue.

Lukashenko’s first move to end the international isolation was when Belarus refused to recognize Moscow's annexation of Crimea or side with Russia concerning its actions in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels have been clashing with government forces.

Lukashenko has been in power for 21 years, earlier this month he won his fifth term in office in an election protested by the opposition.


TRTWorld and agencies