The ceremony hastened EU plans to boycott Lukashenko following the disputed elections on August 9th, as the European Parliament had previously decided not to recognize the veteran leader since November, when his term as president was due to expire.
“The so-called ‘inauguration’ … and the new mandate announced by Alexander Lukashenko have no democratic legitimacy,” a statement from the 27 EU countries said.
“This ‘inauguration’ directly contradicts the will of a large part of the Belarusian population, expressed in numerous, unprecedented and peaceful post-election protests, and only serves to deepen the political crisis in Belarus.”
The EU, a major financial donor to Belarus, also said it was “reviewing its relations” with the country, meaning the bloc would seek to end direct funding for Lukashenko’s government, instead targeting aid groups and hospitals.
Prior to the election, the EU pledged to spend 135m euros on projects in Belarus, and also pledged 53m euros to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya discussed with EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday how to bypass the state administration to support doctors and hospitals.
“I asked Europe not to support the regime financially. All the money that Mr Lukashenko can get now will not go to support the Belarusian people, but it will go to this repression,” she told reporters, citing pro-democracy repression.