It is encouraging to see a consensus in recent statements by observers and policymakers on Belarus. Nearly all independent commentators agree that sanctions need to be imposed against the regime of Lukashenka. Yesterday's editorial of FT about Belarus adds to the choir:
The regime's outrageous actions demand a firm response, above all from the European Union and the US, which have dangled carrots under Mr Lukashenko's nose for more than two years in an effort to encourage warmer relations and political liberalisation in Belarus. This effort has brought minimal results and should now be frozen. :
These steps need not mean the isolation of Belarus, which would merely push it deeper into Russia's orbit. Travel sanctions on regime officials can be combined with easier, less costly visas for ordinary Belarussians wanting to visit the EU. But as long as Mr Lukashenko oppresses his people, normal relations are out of the question.
Easing of visa requirements for Belarusians is an important measure. The perfect solution in this area would be an entire lift of EU visas for Belarusian citizens.
The Schengen states have recently lifted visas for citizens of Bosnia and Albania. By any means, Belarusians are very unlikely to present a bigger threat in terms of illegal immigration or crime export than citizens of these countries.
On the other hand, the entry ban for people responsible for repressions and vote rigging should not limit itself to the senior nomenklatura - the talk should be of hundreds or even thousands of local executioners.
The ultimate aim should be to prevent people from collaboration with the regime, by letting the bureaucrats know its price.
Read the Financial article in full here