Norway will back EU sanctions on Minsk

Norway will support the European Union’s sanctions targeted against the Minsk regime if efforts to achieve free elections in Belarus fail, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in Vilnius on Tuesday.

“Yes, I believe that if we don’t get that, we need to do sanctions against the Belarus regime. And that’s what Norway has said: we will support the European sanctions when they come, because we need to do this together,” Solberg told reporters in the Lithuanian capital.

“But we also have to make sure that we make smart sanctions [targeted at] those who are decision makers, [rather than] hurting people and creating an atmosphere that is against those who want change,” she added.

Belarusians themselves must achieve change in their country.

“I believe it’s very important that we don’t take up the fight for the people of Belarus and turn it into a somewhat different conflict. I believe that would do damage to the people of Belarus, too,” she said.

Commenting on whether Europe should also consider sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Solberg said it was necessary to demand a transparent investigation into the incident, echoing the position of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

It is also important to avoid “accelerating the conflict between NATO and Russia” and take “one step at a time”, according to the Norwegian leader.

“I think [escalating] the conflict, making this kind of ‘Eastern-Western’ conflict is contradictory to what we want to see,” Solberg said.

“We have to ask the Russians about how they are going to investigate the case, to see that they are investigating this in a way that we all can be assured that they are looking for the perpetrators,” she added.


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