European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on Friday for sanctions against Belarus, where security forces cracked down on opposition protests against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.
"We need additional sanctions against those who violated democratic values or abused human rights in Belarus," von der Leyen tweeted ahead of a video conference hosted by Brussels' diplomatic chief Josep Borrell.
"I am confident today's EU Foreign Ministers' discussion will demonstrate our strong support for the rights of the people in Belarus to fundamental freedoms and democracy," von der Leyen said.
Imposing sanctions on Minsk would require unanimous consent among the 27 member countries of the block.
The EU has declared the situation in Belarus a "matter of grave concern," after Sunday’s disputed elections that Brussels has said was "neither free nor fair."
Meanwhile, Belarusian authorities released some 1,000 detained demonstrators on Friday after making a rare public apology as the EU weighs sanctions on the country.
About 7,000 people have been detained, including the husband of opposition candidate and Lukashenko’s main challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and hundreds were injured in five days of massive protests in Belarus to contest the vote results and demand an end to the 26-year rule of Lukashenko.
Fearing for her children’s and her life, Tsikhanouskaya fled Belarus and is living in exile in neighboring Lithuania.