Germany’s Maas vows to up pressure on Belarus for repression

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas vowed on Thursday to dial up the pressure on Belarus in the wake of a controversial election and crackdown on opposition protests.

Maas was speaking in Berlin alongside his Norwegian counterpart, Ine Eriksen Soreide, a day before EU foreign ministers are set to conduct an extraordinary meeting in Brussels.

The possibility of new sanctions targeting Belarus will be discussed intensely, Maas said.

It is clear that the actions of security forces in the country are “not acceptable in 21st-century Europe,” he added.

Germany’s top diplomat, whose country currently has the rotating EU presidency, said the bloc must “increase pressure on the rulers” in Minsk, calling upon the government there to adhere to international law.

Eriksen Soreide said the violence seen in Belarus was excessive and called for member states to make a joint response.

Thousands of people have been detained in mass demonstrations on the streets of Belarus since the country, often dubbed Europe’s last dictatorship, had its presidential election on Sunday.

There have been calls for long-time President Alexander Lukashenko to resign. He is accused of mass rigging in the election, which electoral authorities say he won by about 80 per cent of the vote.

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