Lithuania Opposes EU Sanctions Against Belarus

By Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Monday she was against European Union proposals to toughen economic sanctions against neighboring Belarus.

Grybauskaite told reporters in Vilnius that wide-ranging economic sanctions would be ‘a blow below the belt’ against the struggling Belarusian economy, even while EU foreign ministers were discussing the imposition of fresh measures in the wake of a crackdown on political opponents of Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

‘I am categorically against sanctions against the state itself,’ Grybauskaite said.

Fresh sanctions would hit ordinary Belarusians more than their leaders, she argued.

‘Political sanctions should be against those people responsible for the crackdown on post-election demonstrations,’ Grybauskaite said.

As a neighboring state and point of entry to the EU, Lithuania has important trade and transport links with Belarus.

In addition, Grybauskaite has cultivated a strong working relationship with Lukashenko, visiting him in Minsk and entertaining him in Vilnius.

Lithuania currently chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which said December presidential elections in which Lukashenko won 79 per cent of the vote were seriously flawed.