Large-scale economic sanctions will be the harshest punishment for the dictator.
The European Union intends to prohibit the issuance of loans to Belarus and introduce a whole series of sanctions, which are very sensitive for Minsk. This became known after an agreement was reached on Friday on economic sanctions against Minsk as punishment for the forced landing of a plane to arrest an opposition journalist. Reuters reported this with reference to a statement by the Austrian Foreign Ministry and sources in diplomatic circles, Voice of America reports.
Large-scale economic sanctions will be the toughest punishment for Minsk for forcing the landing of a Ryanair liner flying from Athens to Vilnius. The leaders of the European countries called the actions of Minsk “state piracy.”
Restrictions that will affect the financial sector in Belarus, if they are agreed by EU governments at the political level, will include a ban on new loans, a ban on EU investors from trading in securities of Belarusian companies or buying Belarusian short-term bonds, as well as a ban on EU banks from providing investment services. In addition, export crediting to Belarus from the European Union will be terminated.
Friday's agreement was reached despite initial objections from Austria, whose Raiffeisen Bank is one of the largest players in the Belarusian banking market through its subsidiary Priorbank.
Next Thursday, EU leaders will gather for a planned summit, at which the decision to impose large-scale sanctions against Belarus can be finally approved.
“With this agreement, the EU is sending a clear and purposeful signal against the unbearable repression by the Belarusian regime,” the Austrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The experts tasked with drafting the sanctions agreed to ban the EU's export to Belarus of any communications equipment that could be used for espionage and a tougher embargo on arms supplies, including hunting rifles.
They also agreed on restrictions on the purchase of Belarusian tobacco products, oil, and oil products by the European Union, as well as a ban on the import of potassium, which is the main item of Belarusian export.
According to one diplomat, financial sanctions will be made for humanitarian purposes, and the personal savings of Belarusian citizens will not be affected.
The EU governments intend to increase pressure on sectors that are central to the Belarusian economy in order to truly punish the Lukashenka regime.
Potash exports are the main source of foreign exchange for Belarus, the state-owned company Belaruskali claims that Belarus produces 20% of potassium globally.
According to the EU statistics bodies, last year the EU countries imported chemicals worth $ 1.5 billion from Belarus, including potassium, as well as oil and oil products, such as fuels and lubricants, worth more than 1 billion euros.
Germany stated that the sanctions should continue until the Belarusian authorities hold free elections and release all political prisoners.
The actions of Lukashenka, who sent a fighter jet to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius on May 23, caused outrage among the world community.
In response, the EU blocked flights of Belarusian airlines to European airports and banned all of its carriers from using the airspace of Belarus for flights.
On Monday, the EU foreign ministers intend to sign a decree on the inclusion of more than 80 individuals and legal entities in the "blacklist" with the freezing of financial assets and a ban on the issuance of visas.
According to diplomats, seven people who will be subject to sanctions are directly related to the incident with Ryanair, and the rest were included in the list in connection with the actions of the Belarusian authorities to suppress the opposition.