European Union foreign ministers failed to overcome a diplomatic standoff over Belarus sanctions on Monday due to lack of unanimity. Belarus main opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya travelled to Brussels to try to convince the EU to follow through on its threat to impose sanctions on some 40 Belarusian officials over the disputed Aug. 9 vote.
“Although there is a clear will to adopt the sanctions, the required unanimity was not reached,” the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, who chaired the meeting of foreign ministers, told reporters, referring to EU rules that all 27 states must agree.
Cyprus has said it can only agree to the Belarusian sanctions when the EU also imposes sanctions on its neighbour, Turkey, in a separate row that has raised tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Approval is still possible by EU leaders at a summit on Thursday and Borrell said that by the next time foreign ministers meet on Oct. 12, the sanctions would be agreed. But he also acknowledged the paralysis was damaging for the EU’s image.
“If we are not able to (approve Belarus sanctions), then our credibility is at stake,” Borrell told a news conference.
The EU said in late August it would impose asset freezes and travel bans on Belarusian officials.
Cyprus says it supports sanctions on Belarus but wants the bloc to act over Turkey as well.
“Our reaction to any kind of violation of our core, basic values and principles cannot be a la carte. It needs to be consistent,” Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said.
I understand Cyprus position,” Borrell said. In Gymnich it had been decided that new sanctions should be considered if Turkey didn’t change its attitude towards Cyprus, “and Turkey has not changed its attitude,” he added.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias that the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting described the withdrawal of Turkish survey vessel Oruc Reis as a “positive sign,” even if only “a first sign” of respect for International Law, in statements after the end of the meeting.
“Turkey must show many more tangible signs of respect for International Law,” he underlined.
He added that this better be done by the time of the upcoming EU Summit of state leaders, which is expected to look into the issue further, “so that we can finally come up with some directions for Euro-Turkish relations.”
Greece has been pushing that even if EU leaders will not vote for sanctions against Turkey at the Summit, September 24-25, they should adopt a list of sanctions.
sources; reuters, amna, others