Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Poland unilaterally imposes Belarus sanctions

  • The Polish move is likely to trigger a Belarusian response (Photo: johnnyalive)

Poland has unilaterally slapped visa sanctions on Belarus officials involved in last month's election crackdown, declining to wait for an EU-level decision due later this month.

A Polish diplomat told EUobserver that the visa ban, which covers Polish territory only, has been put in place following an earlier warning by the Polish foreign ministry on 30 December.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He declined to confirm whether or not Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is himself persona non grata. But he said the list numbers "many more" people than the five Belarusian officials on the EU's active visa ban register and the 36 officials on a temporarily-suspended one.

EUobserver understands that Mr Lukashenko is on Warsaw's list and that it numbers "over 100" names.

The Polish move is likely to trigger a Belarusian response.

The country's foreign minister, Sergei Martynov, last week told press in Brussels: "If this decision is actually taken, it would be an unfortunate one and Poland should be ready that we would have to, we must, we will be compelled, we will be forced to reciprocate."

Other pro-visa-ban EU countries, such as Lithuania, Germany, Sweden and the UK, have opted to wait until the union comes up with a joint decision on the issue at a foreign ministers' meeting scheduled for 31 January in Brussels.

"We always prefer to stand by a single EU policy. We are quite successful in moving to such an approach anyway. In the meetings that we have, we hear more or less similar voices," a diplomat from one of the pro-sanctions countries said on the likelihood of a new EU visa ban.

A senior EU diplomat stationed in Minsk told this website that the union is concerned about the state of health of two political detainees: Vladimir Neklyayev, who suffered a severe beating by masked men last month, and hunger striker Mikalai Statkievich.

The Belarusian authorities have declined an EU request to visit detainees and have also denied prisoners access to lawyers and to personal mail, in contravention of international norms.

Belarus says police attacked the crowd on 19 December after it tried to storm a government building in an attempted coup d'etat orchestrated by Germany and Poland.

The EU diplomatic source dismissed this is as propaganda.

"Many witnesses are saying it was agent provocateurs [who tried to raid the government building] and that others joined in ... this is the way we see it," the contact said.

"We don't take it seriously [Belarus' comments on the EU-sponsored coup], except for the fact that it is written like this, that it is a serious attempt at disinformation."

Name row on new EU sanctions exposes deeper rift

EU officials have voiced scepticism on proposed new human rights sanctions, amid a "nasty" debate to what extent Russia ought to be named and shamed in the title of the new measures.

Hopeless Gaza Strip ripe for Islamic State, says UN head

Fears are mounting that more extreme militants, possibly linked to the Islamic State, will gain a foothold in the Gaza Strip as trapped youth lose all sense of hope in a conflict that is on the verge of boiling over.

Investigation

Leaked document sheds light on Turkey's controlled 'coup'

More than two years after the failed putsch, evidence is trickling out to support what the EU initially suspected - that Erdogan knew what was going to happen and let it go ahead as a pretext to create one-man rule.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us