The fifth package of sanctions will be approved in November.
The fifth package of sanctions against Lukashenka's regime will be focused primarily against persons and companies responsible for trafficking migrants from the Middle East and Africa to the EU through the territory of Belarus. The EU ambassador to Belarus Dirk Schuebel stated about it on Tuesday, October 26th, during the hearing of the Committee of the European Parliament on Foreign Affairs in Brussels, reports DW.
The diplomat stressed that the EU calls to the Belarusian authorities remain unchanged: the release of political prisoners, an end to repression and new elections. "Unfortunately, all our calls have gone unheeded. Therefore, we are now preparing a fifth package of sanctions, which is likely to focus primarily on the issue of migration, but not only," said Schuebel. He did not go into further details, because the EU has always kept sanctions secret until their official introduction. The fifth package will be adopted in November.
Will there be EU sanctions against Belavia and potash fertilizers?
Schuebel was also asked about whether the EU would extend sanctions to all potash imports from Belarus. "Time will tell. It will also depend on the actions of the Belarusian authorities... If political prisoners are not released, if violence against civilians continues, then all options are possible, including (sanctions against. - Ed.) the areas that are more vulnerable to the EU," he replied.
The EU ambassador confirmed that there are still discussions in Brussels about possible sanctions against Belavia. The issue of the airplanes, leased by the EU companies to the Belarusian state airline, is also under discussion, added the diplomat.
Schuebel reminded that the EU had managed to persuade the Iraqi authorities to stop flying to Belarus at least by the end of the year. According to him, Brussels is talking to other countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. He named only two countries in particular: Pakistan and Turkey. One MEP pointed out that there had been four flights from Istanbul to Minsk just the day before, on October 25. Schuebel responded that although these planes could be used by migrants, there is also a great demand for flights to Istanbul, because it is practically one of two options to get from Belarus to the EU: either by car, bus or train to Vilnius and from there by plane; or by air with a connection in Istanbul.
The main topic for the EU - human rights in Belarus
"The most important topic is the human rights situation. Many of us are talking today about migration, which is indeed a big problem, especially for the three EU countries neighboring Belarus. But we should not forget that our biggest problem is the human rights situation in Belarus itself, because it affects people," said Schuebel.
According to the ambassador, Western diplomats in Belarus are no longer allowed to attend court hearings. He reminded that judgements against Siarhei Tsikhanouski and Mikalai Statkevich are expected in the near future and promised that diplomats will stay in front of the court in Homel.
In addition, Schuebel said that European diplomats meet regularly with the families of political prisoners in Belarus, the number of which has already reached 821 people. The relatives then ask to deliver letters and parcels to political prisoners. The diplomat acknowledged that many of them are not delivered, but he asked MEPs to write letters and send parcels anyway. "Even if one in 10 or 15 gets through, it's a very important sign of support. They feel completely alone ... Send a letter, maybe yours will get through," Schuebel asked.
At the end of June this year, the Lukashenka Foreign Ministry "advised" Dirk Schuebel to leave the country, after which he continued to work from Brussels.