The European Union is likely to miss its own Monday deadline for imposing sanctions on Belarus, three diplomatic sources say, stalled by a lack of unanimity among member states after Cyprus dug in its heels in a separate row.
Cyprus has said it will not agree to penalise Belarus unless the EU also puts sanctions on its neighbour Turkey in an unrelated dispute that has raised tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
The sources, speaking after a Friday afternoon session of the bloc's 27 member envoys to the EU in Brussels, said officials in Nicosia insisted on their veto on introducing the already-promised sanctions on Belarus.
Any such decision requires EU unanimity.
The EU vowed weeks ago to impose sanctions on Belarus for alleged election fraud and human rights abuses, and had been planning to finalise the decision when the bloc's foreign ministers meet on Monday.
"Now it seems it's going to the summit," one of the sources said of a top-level meeting of the bloc's leaders in Brussels due on Thursday and Friday.
With as many as 40 Belarus senior officials identified for possible sanctions and the former Soviet republic a month into mass demonstrations against the outcome of the election, many in the EU are furious that the bloc has been unable to respond.
Australian Associated Press