Cyprus blocked the proposed EU sanctions against Belarus on Monday, citing the bloc’s inaction over Turkish aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The sanctions were being considered in response to the election that saw Lukashenko –considered the last European dictator — gaining a sixth term in office, and the Minsk government’s tough response to protesters who are disputing the results.
Cyprus had wanted the Belarus sanctions to be tied to sanctions against Turkey due to its illegal drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
Foreign Minister Nikos Chistodulides said that the EU’s response to any kind of violations of core values and principles cannot be a la carte. “The EU needs to be consistent,” he added.
Our reaction to any kind of violations of core values & principles cannot be à la carte. It needs to be consistent.
I believe there are no deadlocks in Diplomacy.I am here, I am ready to implement the political decision that we reached at Gymnich.@CyprusMFA pic.twitter.com/W5mReulhJO
— Cyprus in EU 🇨🇾🇪🇺 (@CyprusinEU) September 21, 2020
“Although there is a clear will to adopt those sanctions, it has not been possible to do that today because the required unanimity was not reached,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters after chairing a foreign ministers’ meeting.
The Baltic neighboring country of Lithuania, which is hosting Belarus’ exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikanouskaya, expressed disappointment at Cyprus’ veto. Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius that the failure to agree on sanctions “undermines credibility and democratic values.” He also warned Cyprus “not to link things that must not be linked.”
Today's failure to agree on sanctions in support of Belarusians, suffering & fighting for democracy, undermine credibility of democratic values they are fighting for. Some colleagues should not link things that must not be linked. 🇱🇹will continue to insist on substantial actions.
— Linas Linkevicius (@LinkeviciusL) September 21, 2020
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted that it “sends a wrong signal to Belarusians, our societies and the whole world.
Discussing many issues in #EU #FAC, including #Belarus. It is regrettable that today we could not decide on sanctions on violations of human rights there due to “a hostage taking” by a member state. Sends a wrong signal to Belarusians, our societies and the whole world
— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) September 21, 2020