The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says that the European Union can ban Belorussian top leaders from entering its territory. Besides President Lukashenko himself, there are about 100 Belorussian politicians in this "black list". For the EU, this is a way to punish Lukashenko's regime for suppressing the opposition right after presidential elections.
The EU will take the final decision whether to do this on January 31 - but Carl Bildt already has no doubts that the Belorussian autocrat will be punished.
The EU and the US already introduced sanctions against President Lukashenko and about 40 Belorussian top officials in 2006. However, in 2008, after a warming between the EU and Belarus, the EU suspended - but, still, not fully lifted - these sanctions. In October 2010, the EU prolonged them for another year, but still in the "suspended" stage.
This shows that the EU's leaders' attitude to Lukashenko's regime is dualistic. On the one hand, the EU has to press on the Belorussian regime, trying to make it more democratic. On the other, the EU wants to cooperate with Belarus - in particular, to involve it into the program "Eastern Partnership" for post-Soviet countries.
However, now, when repressions against the opposition in Belarus have become especially tough, the EU has to introduce the sanctions again. Some Europeans even say that the new sanctions must be stronger than old ones.
The Authorized Representative of the EU Lawyers' Camber in Russia Alexander Treschev comments on this situation:
"It is absolutely fair of the EU that it has decided to say "no" meaning that it won't tolerate such an inadequate behavior of the Belarusian leadership and it is time to ban some Belarusian politicians to enter the EU. In our time of globalization you can't be a dictator in a certain country and think that you will get away with it. There will be economic sanctions too. I think there will be no more arms the Belarusian leader could throw himself into, no supporters to turn to. Today he acts as if you are his best friends, tomorrow he curses you and makes some ill-considered statements. I think, once Russia and Europe make Lukashenko understand that he cannot maneuver like this anymore this will have positive consequences for all Belarus' neighbors."
It is not the riots in Minsk after the elections, which prompted the EU to make the decision on Belarus. When in several days practically the whole opposition in the country was arrested including those people who did not take part in the rally in the center of Minsk the situation is clear.
The EU's decision was the problem of choice. The EU was to choose between the political and economic advantages of cooperation with Lukashenko and the democratic principles. Under the democratic principles it is simply impossible for Europe to continue cooperation with the political leader who is acting as a dictator in his country.