Warsaw, Berlin, Paris raise issue of sanctions on Belarus

20th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Polish, French and German foreign ministers spoke Friday of possible targeted economic sanctions against Belarus strongman Aleksander Lukashenko amid his crackdown on opponents.

"The issue of sanctions vis-a-vis Belarus will be examined Monday in Brussels at the foreign ministers council," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Friday in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland, at a joint press conference with his Polish and German counterparts.

"Notably this implies targeted sanctions against companies, not a general embargo, but something which will make life difficult for companies which finance the regime," Poland's top diplomat Radoslaw Sikorski added.

"We will increase the pressure on the Belarus regime as long as it does not change its politics," Sikorski said.

"The sanctions will affect the regime, not the people," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

Last week, European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton strongly condemned the jailing of Belarus opposition leader Andrei Sannikov for five years on charges of organising protests after the Lukashenko's disputed re-election in December.

Ashton further warned of the "readiness of the EU to consider further targeted restrictive measures in all areas of cooperation."

On Friday, Belarus handed two-year suspended sentences to former presidential candidates Vladimir Nekliayev and Vitaly Rymashevsky, convicting them of public order offences during post-election protests.

Over 20 opposition activists have been tried or jailed by the regime since its crackdown on protests against the re-election of Lukashenko in a presidential ballot that both the Belarus opposition and international observers said was flawed.

© 2011 AFP

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