Denounce, and act. Since the poisoning of the opponent Alexeï Navalny, and more recently, the coup d’état in Burma, the European Union (EU) has been navigating between these two waters. If it intends to weigh against these various violations with targeted sanctions, the EU has chosen the path of measure. And raises real questions about the scope of the actions adopted, symbolic according to some.
Alexeï Nalvany was not heard by the 27. While in November he urged the European Union to target “the money, the oligarchs, not just the old oligarchs, but the new ones, members of Putin’s inner circle” , after its poisoning attempt, Europe finally decided to target only four senior Russian officials involved in the legal proceedings against the opponent and in the crackdown against his supporters.
READ ALSO> Trial of Alexey Navalny: “His courage gives him a moral posture that he did not have before”
Concretely, these sanctions consist of a visa ban and an asset freeze in the EU for the persons or entities concerned. “Generally the sanctions are economic, they attack the belly of the country. In this case, it will make life difficult for a natural person. These are minimum binding measures, but which allow us to say that we do not agree, ”analyzes Astrid Viaud, doctor in political science at the Catholic University of Louvain. “It is hardly possible to sanction the oligarchs. We can only act against officials, and that only if we have proof, ”for his part assured the head of Luxembourg diplomacy Jean Asselborn before the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council.
Find “the smallest point of agreement between all the States”
Why not go further? “Directly targeting those in power would be a provocation”, answers Astrid Viaud. In addition, even if the 27 decide on sanctions unanimously, “there are groups of sensitivities in the European Union,” she recalls. Depending on these sensitivities we will find the smallest point of agreement between all the States ”. Often at the heart of negotiations, the preservation of certain economic interests. “There are strong links between the German and Russian automobile industries”, illustrates the specialist. Not to mention the very heavy dependence of EU states on Russian gas.
Consequence, in certain cases, of the trains of sanctions which follow one another, without never really marking the stop. Three times the Union has adopted measures against the Belarusian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, without effect. “In the case of Crimea, for example, the EU was playing with sanctions against an army. De facto we are no longer talking about the same thing. But that was his only power, notes Astrid Viaud. […] The aim of the European Union is not to destabilize existing regimes and replace them. She is not going to export her model everywhere. She is there to say no, because she has this vocation to make peace reign ”. For the researcher, semantics are partly confusing. “In the texts there is no question of sanctions strictly speaking, but restrictive measures. By popularizing we have reached this term, but in fact, we expect something oversized, ”she points out.
This symbolic role is in any case already predicting the failure of future measures adopted against those responsible for the military coup of February 1 in Burma. The EU wants to hit the wallet of several putschists, “because in this country, the military are entrepreneurs and they hold parts of the economy”, assures European diplomacy. “Are there enough links between the EU and the Burmese oligarchs, more specifically with the military junta? It is this criterion which will make it possible to know whether the measures can be effective, ”asks Astrid Viaud. In Brussels, everyone remembers the almost ineffective sanctions imposed in 1996 against a regime which muzzled the main opposition figure. It was already Aung San Suu Kui, and the Burmese regime …
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr