The regime only understands the language of sanctions.
The European Union has approved sanctions against 78 individuals and 8 companies associated with the Lukashenka regime. The "green light" was also given for the introduction of sectoral sanctions.
The website Charter97.org asked the MEP from Lithuania, Petras Aushtrevičius, to assess the new sanctions against the Belarusian regime.
- I would call the fourth package of sanctions a very strong message to the Lukashenka regime and, at the same time, an expression of solidarity with the Belarusians. Different directions and different messages.
- “Lukashenka’s wallets” were also included in the sanctions list. They are banned from entering the EU, their accounts in European banks will be frozen. Do you think this is a strong signal for the dictator's entourage?
- Of course, this is the right message. I would call this an absolutely adequate form of solution. These people are very rich, they want to be rich in order to use all goods and services of the European level, so the freezing of assets, the closure of the Schengen area for them is what needs to be done.
Such measures are needed not only against these people, but against a wider circle because there are oligarchs, but there are also smaller influential figures in Belarus who still directly or indirectly support Lukashenka. This is why we must continue like this. They really understand this language.
- Also, the "green light" was given for the introduction of economic sanctions. The European Parliament in its resolution advocated even greater restrictive measures. Can it be considered that this is a kind of advance, and if the regime does not make concessions, tougher actions will follow?
- I think that the fifth package of sanctions will include sectoral and economic sanctions.
The European Union should keep the Lukashenka regime under increasing pressure only, not decreasing. The purpose of this pressure and our message to Lukashenka is to start a dialogue with the opposition, to sit down at a round table.
We are striving for an absolutely understandable thing that needs to be completed as soon as possible so that the regime does not oppress people even more. So I think this is absolutely the right decision, and I hope that the European Union will do something else in the future.
- On the eve of the meeting of the EU foreign ministers, statements were made that Austria was blocking tough measures against the Lukashenka regime. Is today's decision an indicator of EU unity?
- To a large extent, yes, although the preparation of this decision was not easy. Austria had a different opinion, but I am glad that the position of the European Union on supporting Belarusians turned out to be very unified. I hope that countries are learning how to behave against dictators and repressive figures like Lukashenka. This could be a very good experience for the European Union in the future.
- The main demand of the Belarusian protesters is the release of political prisoners and free elections. What else can the EU do to help the Belarusian people achieve these goals?
- With the fourth and fifth packages of sanctions, we, the European Union, are sending a very strong signal to Lukashenka, but we still need to do something else to help civil society, activists, especially political prisoners and their families, to overcome this very difficult period. They really need direct help.
Political support, all kinds of organizational support for all activists, the media that still remain there and write about Belarus must receive our support unconditionally. Sanctions have been imposed against the regime, but our assistance should be more and more effective for the people in Belarus, so I believe that we still have to make the right decisions.