Cyprus Under Fire for Vetoing EU Sanctions on Belarus



Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Chistodulides gestures during the EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday. Credit: Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the EU

Cyprus blocked the proposed EU sanctions against Belarus on Monday, citing the bloc’s inaction over Turkish aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The sanctions were being considered in response to the election that saw Lukashenko –considered the last European dictator — gaining a sixth term in office, and the Minsk government’s tough response to protesters who are disputing the results.

Cyprus had wanted the Belarus sanctions to be tied to sanctions against Turkey due to its illegal drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

Foreign Minister Nikos Chistodulides said that the EU’s response to any kind of violations of core values and principles cannot be a la carte. “The EU needs to be consistent,” he added.

“Although there is a clear will to adopt those sanctions, it has not been possible to do that today because the required unanimity was not reached,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters after chairing a foreign ministers’ meeting.

The Baltic neighboring country of Lithuania, which is hosting Belarus’ exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikanouskaya, expressed disappointment at Cyprus’ veto. Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius that the failure to agree on sanctions “undermines credibility and democratic values.” He also warned Cyprus “not to link things that must not be linked.”

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted that it “sends a wrong signal to Belarusians, our societies and the whole world.