06:43 GMT +320 October 2019
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    EU Members Ready to Ease Decade-Old Sanctions Against Belarus - German FM

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    A number of European Union members are ready to ease sanctions against Belarus if the current political situation in the country is maintained, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said following Monday's meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

    BERLIN (Sputnik) — Belarus, a former Soviet republic, has been under US and EU sanctions for about a decade, including visa bans and financial restrictions on Belarusian individuals and entities.

    The West accuses the Belarusian authorities of persecuting the political opposition and denying citizens’ basic rights and freedoms, in particular, freedom of expression.

    "In the end, if the current [political] level is maintained, there is a will among EU member states — there is unity on this issue — to change relations with Belarus, and these possible changes will affect the existing sanctions. This will not be extended to all existing sanctions, especially those imposed on specific individuals accused of participating in violent acts in the past, but one can imagine the rest of the changes," Steinmeier said.

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko insists that the accusations are groundless and that putting pressure on Minsk is pointless.

    According to preliminary results from Sunday’s presidential election, Lukashenko won 83.5 percent of the popular vote, giving him a landslide victory for his fifth term in office.

    Earlier in the day, Steinmeier said that sanctions might be eased or lifted after the final results of the country’s presidential election.


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