During a video conference convened by EU Vice President Josep Borrell on Friday, foreign ministers from the bloc spoke about sanctioning Belarus, and ways that the EU could support the Belarusian people.
The bloc said it “considers the results to have been falsified and therefore does not accept the results of the election as presented by the Belarus Central Election Commission.”
The EU’s response to the election came as Belarusians protested against the results, which the opposition said were rigged.
Police have dispersed protesters with tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons, and rubber bullets and beat them with truncheons. Black-uniformed officers chased protesters into residential buildings and deliberately targeted journalists, beating many and breaking their cameras.
About 7,000 people were detained during the protests, and at least 2,000 have been released since Friday, many of whom told of being struck repeatedly with truncheons, being threatened with gang rape, and held amid harsh conditions and overcrowded cells.
European Union foreign ministers condemned the Belarusian authorities over “the disproportionate and unacceptable violence against peaceful protesters” and “shocking reports of inhumane treatment and detention conditions.”
The EU called for a “thorough and transparent investigation into all alleged abuses, in order to hold those responsible to account.”
The EU will also immediately start working on adding to its sanctions list “those responsible for violence, repression, and the falsification of election results” in Belarus, and drafting a proposal to the Belarusian authorities of “EU support in establishing and facilitating a dialogue between the political authorities, opposition, and broader society in view of resolving the current crisis.”
The ministers agreed to review EU-Belarus relations, and increase support to the Belarusian people, “including through enhanced engagement with and financial support to civil society, additional support to independent media, and increasing opportunities for student and academic mobility.”
The United States and the EU previously imposed sanctions on Belarus in the early 2000s when President Alexander Lukashenko earned the nickname of “Europe’s last dictator” by stifling dissent. Throughout his rule, he has attempted to blackmail Russia, his main ally and sponsor, by appearing to reach out to the West to win more subsidies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.