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Belarusian ministers to attend Eastern Partnership meeting in Tbilisi
The Belarusian ministers of foreign affairs and transport will travel to Tbilisi next month for an informal meeting with their counterparts representing the other five post-Soviet countries involved in the European Union`s Eastern Partnership program, Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said in an interview with Lithuania`s news website delfi.lt.
The meeting, which will take place on February 12 and 13, will also be attended by Stefan Fule, the EU commissioner for enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, and Siim Kallas, the EU commissioner for transport, BelaPAN said.
"So, we do cooperate with Belarus at this level and will talk at the meeting about future cooperation, about whether or not it is possible and, if it is, on what terms," Ms. Panjikidze was quoted as saying.
She said that the Belarusian ministers had already confirmed their participation in the meeting.
The Georgian foreign minister refused to comment on a recent remark by David Kramer, executive director of Washington-based Freedom House, who suggested that Belarusian officials should not be invited to the Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, this November.
Ms. Panjikidze also reiterated that Georgia was not interested in joining the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia or any other Russian-led bloc. "The EU and NATO are the only alliances that we want to join," she stressed.
The Eastern Partnership program was launched at a summit in Prague, the Czech Republic, on May 7, 2009, with 33 countries participating: the 27 member states of the EU and six partner countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Belarus). The program is aimed at enhancing and improving the EU`s political and economic cooperation with these six post-Soviet countries from a long-term perspective.
Following the violent dispersal of a post-election protest in Minsk on December 19, 2010, the EU suspended high-level contacts with the Belarusian government. Belarus refused to take part in an Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw in 2011 and a meeting of foreign ministry officials of the Visegrad Group and European Partnership participating countries in Prague in 2012.