EU agrees sanctions on Belarus, warns Turkey to stop ‘provocations’

EU leaders overcame a diplomatic stalemate on Friday to agree sanctions on Belarus at a summit after a long evening of talks, assuring Cyprus the bloc would stand firm on a tough stance towards Turkey for its oil and gas drilling in the Mediterranean.

The agreement to sanction some 40 Belarus officials accused of rigging an August 9 presidential election allows the EU to make good on its promise to support pro-democracy protesters in Minsk and regain some credibility after weeks of delays.

Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is not on the sanctions list, EU chief Charles Michel confirmed Friday after meeting EU leaders, adding they will “follow the situation and developments.”

“We have unblocked sanctions on Belarus,” a senior EU official told reporters. Another EU diplomat said: “It’s a decent compromise,” but gave no details.

The EU’s chairman and chief executive were due to give a news conference in the early hours of Friday. While Britain and Canada have imposed sanctions on Minsk to show support for demonstrations there, the impasse in the 27-nation EU, where decisions are taken by unanimity, has cost the bloc credibility, diplomats say.