After hours of talks, EU leaders broke a diplomatic deadlock Friday (October 2) and imposed sanctions on Belarus.
The deal on sanctions against about 40 officials accused of rigging August's presidential election means that the European Union can make good on a promise to support pro-democracy protesters in Minsk and regain some credibility after weeks of delays.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke after the discussions which dragged past midnight in Brussels.
"We can say today that sanctions against actors in Belarus will be effective, this means that the EU acts against those who oppose the democratic movement and I think this is a very important signal."
While Britain and Canada have imposed sanctions on Minsk, diplomats say that the impasse in the EU has dented the credibility of the bloc's foreign policy.
Cyprus had blocked the action against Belarus for a month, insisting that sanctions also be imposed on its neighbor Turkey for oil and gas exploration along the coast of the Mediterranean island.
Germany pushed back against a tough stand on Turkey, fearing it would disrupt efforts to cool tensions with Greece.
Meanwhile the Belarusian Foreign Ministry retaliated Friday- saying it had compiled a list of people barred from entering the country in response to the sanctions imposed by the EU.
The ministry said the list would not be made public.