Dictator Alexander Lukashenko was suddenly sworn in for a new term as President of Belarus on Wednesday.

The EU has prepared sanctions against about 40 people in Lukashenko's regime, but has not been able to agree on them.

Cyprus withholds its approval on the grounds that it wants to have its case heard in a maritime dispute with Turkey.

Sweden and Finland are also said to have opposed directing sanctions directly against Alexander Lukashenko, sources told AFP.

The reason would be to promote mediation attempts through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which will be led by Sweden.

Ann Linde rejects that information.

- It's completely wrong.

We have never opposed Lukashenko being on the sanctions list.

"Seems desperate"

Linde says that Sweden quickly wanted to agree on a number of names on a first list and then see if there was an opportunity for dialogue with Lukashenko before he was put on a list in a second round.

- Now after this hasty and secret installation, Lukashenko confirms that he completely lacks the support of the Belarusian people.

This seems desperate, so right now there is no precondition for such a dialogue.

Then we think that one should try to get Lukashenko already on the first list.

Ann Linde has no understanding that Cyprus did not approve the sanctions against Belarus on the grounds of its dispute with Turkey.

- We think that these are separate issues that must be dealt with separately.

The issue of sanctions will now be discussed at next week's European Council.