European Council opts for repeating Belarusian presidential elections: PM

The entire European Council unequivocally condemned the process of holding presidential elections in Belarus and stated that the elections should be repeated so they can be considered fair, free and democratic, said the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday after the EU summit devoted to Belarusian affairs.

PM Morawiecki spoke in favour of sanctions against those involved in suppressing protests in Belarus by force but against economic sanctions that would hit the society and deepen the crisis.

During the summit talks, the head of the Polish government drew attention to the deep dependence of the Belarusian economy, especially in terms of raw materials and energy, on Russia.

At the request of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a point about EU support for the independent media and NGOs in Belarus will be added to the final statement concluding the EU summit.

According to PAP diplomatic sources, the European Council expressed gratitude towards Poland and the Baltic States for its initiative of organising the summit devoted to the recent events in Belarus.

The videoconference of EU heads of state and government devoted to the recent developments in Belarus was held on Wednesday. It was held to discuss support for civil society there and show that a way out of the crisis is possible through political dialogue without external interference.

“Only Belarusian citizens can decide about the future of their country; an external intervention would be unacceptable”, said the European Parliament head David Sassoli.

"We are deeply concerned about human rights violations and believe that the only viable way out of the crisis lies in dialogue with all national and international stakeholders to ensure a peaceful resolution", he said.

Protests are still underway in Belarus after the country's recent presidential elections, won by incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko.

According to protesters the exit polls, which gave Lukashenka over 80 percent of the vote and Tsikhanouskaya an ostensible 9.9 percent, were manipulated.

Despite international criticism, Belarusian police are using violence including gas and stun grenades to quell the protests. About 7,000 people have been arrested.