Judy asks: What is Europe’s best way forward for Belarus?

Opinion piece (Carnegie Europe)
20 August 2020

The EU should start with some humility. It holds few effective levers for influencing Belarus. It gives the government in Minsk only insignificant amounts of aid—though it is now, rightly, stepping up support for civil society.

To be sure, the targeted sanctions it will soon impose on officials guilty of human rights abuse and electoral fraud will hurt a bit, preventing those individuals from having fun in Vilnius and other EU capitals. And European leaders can make it clear that worsening repression will lead to harsher sanctions. But they are, sensibly, keen to avoid the sort of trade sanctions that would harm the Belarusian people.

The EU is worried that Russia may be tempted to intervene to snuff out a color revolution in a country with which it has close cultural, economic, and security ties. EU leaders can minimize that risk by emphasizing that they are not seeking to grab Belarus and shift its geopolitical direction; their concern is democracy. So, they are wisely backing the neutral OSCE in Europe to mediate in Belarus.

But in private, EU leaders must warn Russia that any military intervention would lead to very tough sanctions.

You can read the full article here.