The EU does not recognise the result of the presidential election in Belarus. Moreover, it distances itself from the ruler Alexander Lukashenko, who is accused by EUropeans of excessive violence. But it remains unclear how things should continue.
“Our message is clear: the violence must end and a peaceful and inclusive dialogue must begin”, declared Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday in Brussels at a video summit of the 27 EU states.
Indirectly, Michel also advocated the replacement of Lukashenko. “The leadership of Belarus must reflect the will of the people”, he wrote on Twitter. In doing so, he showed “Europe’s last dictator” barely veiled the red card.
Shortly before, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya had appealed to the EU to reject Lukashenko’s claim to power and demand new elections.
“Lukashenko has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of our nation and the world,” Tikhanovskaya said in a video message. The EU should not recognise the “fraudulent elections” of 9 August.
Tikhanovskaya did not adopt the demand for EU sanctions. She also did not call for European mediation. However, this did not prevent the heads of state and government from pushing ahead with the sanctions.
The planned new sanctions should target those persons responsible for election fraud and the actions of the security forces against demonstrators, Michel said. This was a “substantial” number of people, he said.
Asked by journalists whether the EU sanctions should also affect Lukashenko, Michel did not comment on this at his press conference after the summit. He also left unanswered the question of whether the EU would support new elections.
But what is the point of showing the dictator the red card if you don’t want to hold him accountable? What is the point of not recognising the elections if one does not call for new elections?
“The EU is trying to defend democracy without committing itself,” comments the “New York Times”.
This shows that the EU still has no clear course. It wants to prove that it is pursuing a value-based foreign policy, but has no strategy. This cannot go well – especially not in a country like Belarus, which is more inclined towards Russia than the EU.
Chancellor Merkel, in particular, must be worried. She had previously placed her bets on Lukashenko, whom she needed as a mediator in the Ukraine conflict. Now she wants to or has to drop him – but apparently she doesn’t know what to do next…
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version). The original post (in German) is here