The EU has dismissed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s new mandate as illegitimate, stating that the August presidential elections were neither free nor fair, according to a release issued by the Council of the EU on Thursday.
The EU Council contended that Wednesday’s presidential inauguration was contrary to the will of a majority of the Belarusian people as evidenced by the unprecedented and peaceful protests that have occurred since the elections. The inauguration only deepened the political crisis in Belarus, the EU Council noted, reiterating that Lukashenko’s new mandate lacks democratic legitimacy.
The EU has called for new, free and fair elections, in a gesture of solidarity with the Belarusians continuing to demonstrate peacefully for their fundamental rights despite brutal repression by the Belarusian authorities. The EU expects the Belarusian authorities to release all those detained, the statement reads, and is reviewing its relations with Belarus in light of the current situation.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell described the elections in Belarus as fraudulent in a blog post on Tuesday. He criticized the crackdown on demonstrations and reiterated that the bloc does not recognise the election outcome. Lukashenko is not a legitimate President, Borrell wrote, adding that the EU condemns his use of violence and the repression of the fundamental rights of the Belarusian people.
He announced sanctions against 40 or so individuals and entities responsible for electoral fraud and the crackdown on peaceful protests, warning that their assets in the EU frozen would be frozen, and added they would not be eligible for any EU funding and that they would be barred from entering the bloc.
Borrell stressed the importance of a national dialogue, also the role of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and said it was up to Belarusian people to decide on the path their country will take. The EU, he promised, would review its relations with Belarus in the name of supporting its people.
Borrell also announced that the EU plans to allocate some 53 million euros for legal assistance and medical support for the Belarusian people, the nation’s civil society and its independent media.