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What We're Watching: Brussels vs Belarus, South Africa's COVID corruption, a fresh fix for the WHO?

The EU's Belarus problem: While Belarus' strongman president Alexander Lukashenko vowed on Wednesday to crack down on the thousands of Belarusians still protesting against the country's recently-rigged elections, EU member states were convening for an emergency session on the country's deepening crisis. So far, the European Commission has pledged 53 million euros to support Belarusians, including two-million going towards those wounded in the recent government crackdown, as well as 1 million aimed at bolstering an independent media that has been under assault for decades. Most of the funds will go towards the country's post-pandemic economic recovery. However, to date, the EU has not explicitly called for Lukashenko to step aside and has failed to reach a consensus on whether to hit Minsk with sanctions. That's because some member states, such as Hungary, are friendly with Lukashenko, and have called for more dialogue with Minsk, rather than punitive measures. But power brokers in Brussels, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, have made it clear that swift action must be taken to protect the Belarusian people, and to stave off a potential Russian intervention in the crisis by Lukashenko's longtime frenemy Vladimir Putin (i.e. Ukraine 2.0).

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Europe offers support to Beirut; all eyes on Lukashenko's election

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

How will Europe help with the catastrophe in Beirut?

You will see Europe mobilizing quite a lot of help. President Macron of France rushed there. That's natural due to the historical links between France and Lebanon, but also the European Commission and other countries are now mobilizing quite substantially. We are nearby. We have an interest in helping them.

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