Lukashenka calls for full normalization of relations with EU

Belarus needs to continue its policy aimed at the full normalization and expansion of its relations with the European Union, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at a government conference on April 5.


Belarus needs to continue its policy aimed at the full normalization and expansion of its relations with the European Union, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at a government conference on April 5.



He said that cooperation with the EU should be stepped up «in the context of our national interests.» «I mean the strengthening of Belarus' state sovereignty and independence, security and stability,» the government's news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.

Playing up recent progress in Belarus' relations with the EU, Mr. Lukashenka said that the 28-nation bloc's decision to lift its sanctions against Belarusian authorities «opens up new opportunities» for developing their cooperation.

«This step is clear evidence that the EU and its member states are ready to intensify pragmatic cooperation with Belarus. That suits us completely,» he said, noting that Minsk did not want relations with the EU to be politicized.

It would be unacceptable to Belarus to be told to choose between the West and Russia as its foreign-policy priorities, said Mr. Lukashenka. «Such a criterion for talks does not suit us,» he warned. «This is the worst thing that could be told to us.»

«I think Europe is well aware of that today and at least at talks with me not a single representative of the United States or Western Europe has raised the matter in such a way,» he added.

«Our fate is that we have found ourselves between two centers of power and that cannot be helped. We cannot ignore either of them. But the Russians are our brothers, no matter whether someone may like it or not, and we should have appropriate relations.»

Mr. Lukashenka suggested that the EU could offer Belarus access to state-of-the-art technologies and cheap financial resources as part of their «pragmatic» relations.

He also called for solving a number of problems in relations with the EU.

Mr. Lukashenka inquired about the progress of Belarus-EU talks on visa facilitation and readmission agreements. «In order to make a final decision on the matter of partnership with the EU in the sphere of mobility we need to find out what benefits Belarus will receive. Apart from this, it is expedient to discuss common approaches to the further liberalization of the visa regime,» he said.

Mr. Lukashenka said that he expected those present at the conference to make specific proposals for stepping up cooperation with the EU.