EU foreign ministers have agreed to suspend the restrictive measures against Belarus for four months, following elections that witnessed President Lukashenko win a fifth term. The decision to suspend targeted asset freezes and travel bans against Belarus for the next four months includes a snap-back mechanism, terminating the suspension if new human rights abuses should occur. The suspension is set to take effect from 31 October.
President Lukashenko won a fifth term with 83.5% of the vote. Ahead of the vote EU diplomats had said the EU was ready to reconsider the sanctions, provided the polls passed off in an “acceptable climate”. According to France’s European Affairs minister the elections were run without incident, despite that observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe had indicated that the the ballot’s integrity had been undermined by “significant problems”, especially during the counting of the votes.
Four members of Lukashenko’s security services, suspected of being behind the disappearances of political opponents, will remain under sanctions.