EU Emergency Summit on Belarus Started in Brussels

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Before the summit, President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Opposition candidate Tsikhanouskaya called on the European Council not to accept the official election results. In Brussels on Wednesday, August 19, started the emergency summit with the participation of the heads of state and government of the EU countries on the situation in Belarus. It takes place in a videoconference format. “The people of Belarus have the right to decide their future and freely choose their leader. Violence against protesters is unacceptable and inadmissible,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote in his Twitter microblog. The conference participants will discuss the kind of additional assistance they can provide to Belarus. Among other options, they mentioned establishing a fund to help victims of repression, funding projects to support media pluralism in this country, advising on reform of law enforcement agencies, expanding student exchange and facilitating access for Belarusians to the labor market in the European Union. On Friday, August 14, the foreign ministers of the EU states agreed introducing sanctions against persons who may be involved in violence against demonstrators and falsification of election results in Belarus. The European Union has already started drawing up a sanctions list. The head of the European Council spoke with Putin On the eve of the summit, Charles Michel spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Only a peaceful and truly inclusive dialogue can resolve the crisis," he wrote on Twitter following the conversation. In turn, the main opposition candidate in the elections, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, called on the European Council not to accept the official results of the vote, according to which the incumbent head of state Alexander Lukashenko received more than 80 percent of the vote while she got only 10 percent. In response to t Poland and the Czech Republic’s demands Michel's announcement of the video summit was primarily a response to the Poland and the Czech Republic’s demands. Back on August 14, during an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers, the representatives of these states demanded to convene a meeting in order to give more political weight to Brussels' statements about Minsk. The Central Election Commission of Belarus (CEC) on August 14 announced the final results of presidential elections. According to its data, 80.10 percent of voters (4 661 075 people) voted for Lukashenko, 10.12 percent (588 622 people) voted for his main rival Tsikhanouskaya. Former deputy Anna Kanopatskaya was supported by 1.67 percent of voters (97,489 people), leader of the Tell the Truth campaign Andrei Dmitriev got 1.21 percent (70,671 people), chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Gromada party Sergei Cherecheni received 1, 14 percent (66,613 people). 4.59 percent (267,360 people) voted against all. Tsikhanouskaya, in turn, claims thatthose places where the commissions counted the votes honestly, her support ranged from 60 to 70 percent.