Updated at 11:56,07-12-2016

EU Mulling Widening Belarus Measures To Economic Sanctions

The European Union is considering placing "targeted and intelligent economic sanctions" on Belarus President Alyaksander Lukashenko's regime, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele said Saturday.

"If the situation continues, if it gets even worse, we will be coming back to this issue," Fuele said.

He said there was a consensus among member states when the EU placed travel bans and an asset freeze on Belarus officials in late January that the measures could be broadened.

"My humble opinion is that, if Lukashenko and his regime continues with his policy, this consensus is going to be strengthened among the member states that more needs to be done," he said.

Earlier this week, the EU added 19 names to the list of 158 people facing an asset freeze and travel bans, including Lukashenko.

However, the U.S. has gone further by placing sanctions on Belarus companies.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said Lukashenko risks ending up in the same position as the deposed dictators in North Africa.

"It's still President Lukashenko's choice," he told reporters.

Sikorski and Fuele were speaking after a panel discussion at the Brussels forum on international affairs.

During the panel discussion, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon urged the EU to deepen its sanctions on Belarus.

"We have done so. We think the right thing to do is to have economic sanctions," he said.

Also speaking on the same panel, Ukraine Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko insisted that President Viktor Yanukovych's government isn't " backsliding" on democracy.

"We understand that to be efficient, to be modern, to have the opportunity to join Europe as a full-fledged and acceptable member, democracy needs to be preserved and reinforced in the Ukraine and that is what is happening," Gryshchenko said.

Fuhle was also asked during the panel discussion about EU-Turkey accession talks.

He acknowledged that there is "rising" frustration on both sides but he hopes for progress before Turkey's elections in June.