November 1 – November 7, 2021
Belarus-West relations

The EU has agreed the criteria for the fifth package of sanctions, but does not exclude dialogue with the Belarusian regime

The situation has not changed
The EU has agreed the criteria for the fifth package of sanctions, but does not exclude dialogue with the Belarusian regime

The EU has agreed on the criteria for new sanctions against Belarus in response to the migration crisis. The European side continued to ignore the subjectivity of the Belarusian authorities, developing a unilateral set of measures to counter illegal migration flows. Against the background of the failure of migration blackmail tactics and the prospects of increasing pressure from the West, the Belarusian regime testing the water for other negotiation formats with Western capitals.

The European Union has decided on the criteria for the fifth package of sanctions against the Belarusian authorities, the compilation of a list of targeted legal entities and individuals will soon begin. The package itself may be adopted by mid-November.

The sanctions will include persons who are responsible for organizing or assisting the authorities in activities that facilitate the illegal crossing of EU borders and smuggling of illegal or dangerous goods. Three more large banks may also be included in the list. Sanctions have already been imposed on Belarusbank, Belinvestabank and Belagroprombank. Additional sanctions may be imposed against Belavia regarding future leasing contracts.

Meanwhile, the EU has decided on a set of tools to address the migration crisis, which the Belarusian regime uses as an instrument of pressure: border protection, sanctions, negotiations with the countries of origin and transit of migrants and airlines. Some of these measures have already brought visible results. Iraq began evacuation flights from Minsk to Baghdad, and the consulates of Belarus in Baghdad and Erbil were closed by Iraqi authorities because of their involvement migration recruitment. At the same time, following the EU, the Iraqi authorities began to exert pressure on the Belarusian regime regarding illegal migrants.

The 35 OSCE member states agreed to invoke the Vienna Mechanism in connection with serious human rights violations in Belarus. The signatories note, with regret, that the Belarusian authorities did not implement OSCE recommendations and proposals to resolve the crisis, including the organization of a genuine national dialogue between the Belarusian authorities and representatives of the opposition and civil society. The OSCE calls on the Belarusian authorities to stop the attack on media freedom.

Against the background of tougher pressure from the West and the failure of migration blackmail, the Belarusian side is testing the water for other negotiation formats. On November 5th, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Sergei Aleinik met with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Ante Jozic, to discuss cooperation between Belarus and the Vatican, which traditionally acts as a mediator between Belarus and the West. The Austrian Foreign Ministry plans to hold an international conference in Vienna on November 22nd to discuss the situation in Belarus under the title “On the way to a prosperous and prosperous and the secure future of Belarus”.

Politicians, analysts, and representatives from Belarus have all been invited. The ambivalent reaction from Minsk indicates a degree of interest in the conference to clarify the EU negotiating position and as a first step towards restoring communication channels.

The adoption of the fifth package of sanctions by the EU and its allies’ risks exacerbating tensions in the short term however, this is unlikely to significantly affect the desire of the Belarusian regime to enter into a dialogue with the West given growing uncertainty in relations with Russia.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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