PRAGUE—U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on authorities in Belarus to protect protesters and give the country’s citizens more political freedom, the latest pressure on a regime that might now face new sanctions from the neighboring European Union.
“We want the people in Belarus to have the freedoms that they’re demanding,” Mr. Pompeo said at a press conference Wednesday with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the Czech Republic’s government headquarters in Prague. He said a Belarusian election Sunday “wasn’t held in a way that was free or fair.”
On Tuesday, EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell criticized authorities in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, for “disproportionate and unacceptable violence” and said the bloc was considering “taking measures against those responsible for the observed violence, unjustified arrests and falsification of election results.” EU foreign ministers are set to meet Friday to discuss possible Belarusian sanctions.
“We will be assessing the Belarusian authorities’ actions to address the current situation and conducting an in-depth review of the EU’s relations with Belarus,” Mr. Borrell said.
Mr. Pompeo, in the middle of a four-country tour of Central Europe, is warning European officials about the threat of cooperation with authoritarian regimes, referring to nearby Russia and also to China. On Tuesday at a wreath-laying ceremony at a World War II memorial, Mr. Pompeo said, “It’s worth remembering, even as we celebrate, that because authoritarianism is still alive in Beijing and in Moscow and Tehran, there remains work to do.”