On external action, the EU yesterday delivered on what it had set out to do, by imposing additional sanctions on the Lukashenko regime in Belarus. In addition to the EU sanctions that are already in place against a number of individuals, Foreign Minister Maas and his counterparts agreed on sectoral sanctions targeting sectors of the economy that are important sources of income for the regime, where sanctions are likely to have a strong impact on Lukashenko. These include the potash and fertilizer sector, as well as the entire energy sector and the financial services sector.
Obtaining agreement on this from all 27 EU member states has not been entirely easy, since the corporations that stand to suffer financial losses in their business dealings with Belarus include EU companies. The fact that sectoral sanctions were nevertheless agreed yesterday was described by Foreign Minister Maas as sending a “very strong signal”. He went on to say that the EU is determined not to budge, but to make it very clear to Lukashenko that the provocations of recent weeks are completely unacceptable. European Union demands vis‑à‑vis Minsk remain unchanged: release the political prisoners, end the violence and engage in an inclusive dialogue that ultimately leads to free and fair elections.
Iraq: Support the elections and the reform process
Among those meeting in Luxembourg yesterday was Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. EU Ministers’ discussions with him focused mainly on the elections that are scheduled for 10 October. Heiko Maas firmly believes that these elections can be a milestone. The Government of Iraq is seeking to implement major reforms, and Germany wants to support these efforts. Iraq is charting a well-balanced regional policy course and acts as a mediator, in particular between Riyadh and Tehran, which is tremendously important for stability in the region. Specifically, Germany is prepared to participate in an EU election observation mission in Iraq. This could help bring the elections in line with international standards and confer the necessary legitimacy on the newly elected government.