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Lukashenka says that Belarus seeks normal relations with European Union, United States

Belarus will try to establish normal relations with the European Union and the United States, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said Tuesday while delivering his annual address to the nation and the National Assembly.

"Those are civilized and highly developed countries that have civilized and developed markets," the Belarusian leader said. "Those are rich and high-tech countries. We will cooperate with them. Those who want to come and invest in our economy are welcome."

Mr. Lukashenka expressed hope that despite the negative image that certain politicians try to impose on Belarus, "our partners in the European Union will be able to realize the importance of normalizing relations [with Belarus] and see the prospects of long-term relations."

"I can say the same about the United States,” Mr. Lukashenka noted. “If we cut the Gordian knot of existing problems, we will open new horizons of cooperation, primarily in the economic and investment spheres."

Despite some political differences, Belarus has never put obstacles to foreign investment, Mr. Lukashenka noted. "For example, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland sometimes benefit from cooperation with us more than from cooperation with member countries of the European Union," he said.

Belarus’ policy regarding the European Union is characterized by pragmatism, consistency and predictability, Mr. Lukashenka noted. "We are interested in economic cooperation and [cooperation in] combating transnational threats," he said. "Even amid the complicated political relations, the European Union remained one of our main trading partners and sources of loans and investment. Our country is important for the EU as a transit state and a gate to the huge promising market of the Customs Union and the future [Eurasian] economic union."

Belarus is also interested in cooperation with Asian, African and Latin American countries as well, Mr. Lukashenka noted. "We do not need much," he said. "We only need our people to live a normal life and base our foreign policy on this. I expect the signing of free-trade agreements that would reflect the interests of our country. Belarus' foreign policy, which is balanced and aimed at cooperation on an equal and mutually beneficial basis is a guarantee that the circle of our partners will continue to expand and the Belarusian people will get more benefits from this."

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