The planned sanctions by the European Union against the regime of the Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko “cannot yet be imposed”. The German DPA news agency reports that EU member state is bothered is Cyprus. That country makes it a condition that the EU also takes new sanctions against Turkey.
Cyprus and Greece have been calling for a tougher stance against Ankara in Brussels for a long time. They see the recent Turkish gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean as illegal. However, the other EU member states are hesitant about Turkey and are afraid that a tougher tone will be detrimental to mediation efforts by Germany, among others.
The conflict over the Turkish drilling of natural gas has escalated in recent weeks. It began with the presence of Turkish research vessels in waters which Greece considers to be its exclusive economic zone. The mission of the research ship escorted by warships was recently extended until 12 September.
The European Union is in a difficult package as a result of the action taken by Cyprus. The EU foreign service has recently announced on several occasions that the planned sanctions against the Lukashenko regime in Belarus will soon enter into force. With the measures, the EU wants to put pressure on Lukashenko to give way and show solidarity with the masses of Belarusians who have been demonstrating for more freedom and democracy for more than a month.
EU sanctions could affect several dozen people accused of complicity in electoral fraud or violent action against peaceful protests. The sanctions do not apply to president Lukashenko. The reason for this is that this could complicate diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict and deprive the EU of the opportunity to further tighten sanctions.
The Cypriot EU representation did not initially comment on the blockade of sanctions. However, at the end of August Nikos Christodoulidis, Minister for Foreign Affairs, indirectly threatened to veto a meeting of EU foreign ministers. ‘We do not want double standards’, he answered the question whether his country would agree to Belarus sanctions without new Turkish sanctions.