The European Union will not continue economic sanctions against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and 169 Belarusian officials. On Monday, the EU Council decided to cancel the visa ban and assets freeze of the head of Belarus.
EU has upheld the arms embargo on Belarus, as well as sanctions against four senior (at the time) security forces officials, whom the West believes are involved in the disappearance of political opponents of Lukashenka in 1999-2000.
The decision on the withdrawal of part of the sanctions against the Belarusian authorities will enter into force on 16 February.
The EU imposed sanctions on Belarus for violation of human rights and democratic procedures in 1998. In 2006, the sanctions against Belarus were imposed by the US.
Who was on the list?
Visa restrictions and the possible blocking of accounts in foreign banks was aimed at the head of state Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his two eldest sons; the CEC head Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the KGB, and a number of ministers, bureaucrats and judges.
The list of enterprises and organizations that fell under the sanctions included, for example, “Beltechexport” busy with exports of arms and dual-use goods; brewery “Rakauski Brovar”; “Dynamo” soccer team and others.
The sanctions were imposed, canceled and imposed again
“Some EU member states believe that the best way to improve the situation is to lift the sanctions, some countries believe that it is better to leave a number of sanctions,” a source in the EU Council said to the agency France Presse.
Another source in Brussels told the news agency that the EU would like to emphasize the role of Minsk in the dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv in the settlement of the situation in Donbass.
In February 2015, Minsk hosted a meeting of the Normandy Four on Ukraine. Then, Lukashenka expressed the desire to improve relations with the EU and asked Moscow “not to get nervous” because of the decision of Minsk to normalize relations with the West.
In October last year, the EU Council decided to suspend for four months (until 29 February 2016) sanctions against Belarusian officials and companies.
The sanctions were temporarily lifted from the “Beltekhexport,” “Beltekhholdyng”, “Spetspriboryservice” and others.
As was explained then in Brussels, the decision was taken in response to the release of all Belarusian political prisoners on August 22 and in the context of improved relations between the EU and Belarus.
At the same time, the EU noted that “sanctions may be reintroduced at any time, when it will be justified.”
The EU has already canceled once the sanctions against the Belarusian leadership in 2008, but in 2011, sanctions were imposed again — after the presidential elections of 2010 and the arrests of participants of the Square 2010.
The Belarusian authorities have repeatedly advocated the lifting of sanctions. The official Minsk today claims it has intention to actively develop relations with Europe and the United States.