VILNIUS - EU foreign minister have on Thursday agreed to expand the existing sanctions for Belarus, Lithuania's Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
"Foreign ministers agreed that, in response to the regime's growing repressions in Belarus, the EU sanctions must be expanded by including not only a higher number of officials responsible of the ongoing repressions, but also the regime's financial supporters," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell also presented an ongoing review of the EU-Belarusian relations, the ministry said.
Lithuania's outgoing Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius also underlined during the EU Foreign Council meeting that pressure must be increased for the Belarusian regime and a third package of EU sanctions must be adopted as soon as possible in response to the moral and political deadlock in Belarus.
"Over 25,000 peaceful protesters have been detained and there's ongoing widespread prosecution as the number of political prisoners has gone up to previously unseen highs. The regime's brutal actions against Belarusians people are only getting more brutal as a young protester, Roman Bondarenko, was brutally killed. Meanwhile the authorities are imitating dialogue with the opposition and are drafting constitutional amendments. The only way out is a new and free election," Linkevicius was quoted as saying in the statement.
During the meeting, minister also discussed the situation in Nagorno Karabakh and the November 10 peace treaty signed by Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to end military action in the region. Linkevicius underlined that the conflict was resolved only partially.
"The ceasefire is the only positive aspect. But all the other circumstances are raising concern. The conflict remains unresolved, and Russia has further consolidated its influence in the region," he said.
The council also paid a lot of attention to the recent presidential elections in the US and Moldova, and discussed the situation in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as arising challenges to the multinational system, the ministry said.
Speaking about the results of the US presidential election, Linkevicius pointed out that the US remains and must remain the EU's key strategic partner.
The EU is now subjecting over 50 Belarusian regime officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko, unrecognized by the West, to sanctions for vote-rigging and violence against peaceful protesters.