UPDATED: EU to slap sanctions on financial transactions of Belarus, Germany says

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Proposed European Union economic sanctions on Belarus will hit financial transactions by the country, Germany said on Thursday.

“It is clear that we will not be satisfied with small sanctions steps, but that we aim to target the economic structure and financial transactions in Belarus significantly with sanctions,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Lisbon ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts. 

European Union foreign ministers will begin discussing on Thursday which parts of Belarus’ economy to target with sanctions following the forced landing of a plane there and the detention of a dissident journalist, the EU’s top diplomat said.

“The hijacking of the plane and the detention of the two passengers is completely unacceptable, and we will start discussing implementation of the sectorial and economic sanctions,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters before the informal meeting in Lisbon.

He said work on a new round of sanctions on Belarus individuals was at an advanced stage, but did not give more details.

The European Union’s proposed sanctions on Belarus will target companies close to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Estonia’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

“The companies which are close to the Belarusian regime,” will have sanctions imposed, Eva-Maria Liimets told reporters as she arrived for an informal meeting with her EU counterparts.

Proposed European Union economic sanctions against Belarus should target those sectors that most benefit the leadership of the country, although discussions are only just beginning, Lithuania said on Thursday.

“We could talk about the oil product sector,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters on arriving to a meeting with his EU counterparts in Lisbon.

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said on Thursday that Belarus is one of the world’s biggest exporters of potash and any possible European Union sanctions on the country would have an impact on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

“It would hurt Lukashenko very much if we were to target potash exports,” Asselborn told reporters as he arrived for an informal meeting with his EU counterparts in Lisbon.

Ministers are aiming for agreement on June 21, when they meet in Luxembourg, and before the next meeting of EU leaders.

Photo: People protest against the the Belarusian regime at Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

See also: Six U.N. Security Council Members Condemn Belarus Plane Incident, IATA Calls For Review and Belarusian Flag Carrier Belavia Cancels Flights To Eight Countries