EU Ready to Temporarily Lift Belarus Sanctions
EU foreign ministers have agreed on a provisional commitment to a four-month lifting of sanctions imposed on Belarus.
The move comes in the aftermath of presidential elections which took place in the country on Sunday and in which President Aleksandr Lukashenko, in power since 1994, won a fifth term in office. Brussels, on the other hand, has repeatedly hinted at "rapprochement" with Minsk over the past months, eleven years after sanctions were first introduced.
At their October 12 meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers decided that the measures could be reestablished if they see "a step back", Radio Free Europe quotes Harlem D?sir, France's Secretary of State for European Affairs, as saying.
In D?sir's words, the EU officials agreed the vote had taken place "in the most transparent and calm way possible".
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), however, warned after the elections there had been irregularities in the voting process and voiced concerns over the vote count after Lukashenko garnered over 83% of the vote.
In 2010, thousands of people took to the streets of Belarus to protest against the outcome of the previous elections which had resulted in Lukashenko's fourth victory. There were demonstrations against the vote this year as well, but fewer people attended.
Measures currently applied to President Lukashenko, 170 other individuals and 14 groups are set to expire on October 31.
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