"We stand shoulder by shoulder with the peaceful demonstrators"
The European Union stands "shoulder by shoulder with the peaceful demonstrators", stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel in her statement following the meeting of EU heads of state and government. "The courage of those who have demonstrated peacefully has impressed us."
European Council President Charles Michel called the special European Council meeting at short notice to give the heads of state and government of the European Union an opportunity to discuss developments in Belarus in the wake of the presidential elections on 9 August.
Elections "neither free nor fair "
At the same time, she made it clear that the members of the European Council have no doubt that there were "massive irregularities" during the elections. She declared, "The elections were neither free nor fair." That is why the EU cannot recognise the results of the elections held on 9 August.
In a joint statement, the members of the European Council condemned the violence against and detention of demonstrators. "We call on the government of Mr Lukashenko to end the use of violence." Freedom of expression, the right to demonstrate and independent media must be guaranteed. All those unlawfully detained must be immediately and unconditionally released.
National dialogue called for
The Chancellor called for a national dialogue involving all stakeholders in Belarus. Belarus, she said, must find its own way. There must be no external intervention.
The sanctions already agreed by the EU ministers of foreign affairs last Friday are to be stepped up, she reported. These are "targeted sanctions that will not affect the people of Belarus, but that target those who are responsible for the violence and detentions, and for electoral fraud."
Since the presidential election in Belarus on 9 August this year, citizens have been demonstrating peacefully for days for democratic change. The German government has repeatedly stressed that it stands shoulder by shoulder with the demonstrators and has advocated a national dialogue involving the government, the opposition and civil society.
Situation in Mali and in the Eastern Mediterranean
Alongside the situation in Belarus, the heads of state and government also discussed the situation in Mali. Here the Chancellor stressed that they are working to achieve stability and peace. "We condemn the military coup." The focus, she said, must be on the fight against terrorism, and the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to achieve a political solution.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean too were on the agenda. Every effort must be made, said the Chancellor, to de-escalate this "extremely dangerous" situation. The member states, she reported, had expressed their solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, and supported their entitlement to exercise their rights. The matter is to be discussed in more depth at the planned special meeting of the European Council in September.