EU Summit to discuss ongoing situation in Belarus

A summit of European leaders will be held today, following EU Council President Charles Michel’s exit from a COVID-19 induced

EU Summit Belarus

Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky/ AP

A summit of European leaders will be held today, following EU Council President Charles Michel’s exit from a COVID-19 induced quarantine that forced him to postpone the proceedings originally scheduled for last week.

Top points of discussion will include the EU’s response to rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the approval of economic sanctions against Belarusian President Lukashenko’s administration. The bloc’s 27 leaders are set to discuss if Lukashenko’s crackdown on civilians and opposition leaders’ rejection of his fraudulent re-election warrants a pressure campaign via sanctions. The UK and Canada have already fired the first salvo, imposing sanctions on Belarus last month, setting a strong precedent for the EU to approve collective sanctions on key individuals perpetrating the brutality.

However, Cyprus has stalled unanimous agreement—a prerequisite for the sanctions—by linking the sanctions to the unrelated dispute with Turkey over gas exploration. Nicosia is attempting to hold the Belarus sanctions hostage to expedite the resolution of its own concerns in the Eastern Mediterranean. The bloc will likely attempt to push Cyprus away from this course of action, although Russia is also likely to condemn the sanctions and may intercede on behalf of Turkish interests in the Mediterranean to spite the EU. Regardless, sanctions would certainly put pressure on Lukashenko to reduce the level of violence targeting pro-democracy protesters in Belarus.

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