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28 Oct 2016

Belarus intends to bolster bilateral ties with CEI countries

MINSK, 28 October (BelTA) – Belarus intends to strengthen bilateral ties with the countries of the Central European Initiative (CEI) during its presidency in the organization in 2017, Belarus’ Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alena Kupchyna said following the consultations with the CEI Secretariat in Minsk, BelTA has learned.

Building bridges in Europe instead of confrontation is Belarus’ fundamental position, Alena Kupchyna said. The CEI is a unique organization, a flexible and pragmatic regional mechanism which should work to prevent the emergence or expansion of dividing lines in the region. “This is fully in line with the Belarusian national position which we have articulated very clearly since our independence. We very much hope that our presidency will help Belarus to get involved more actively in the European integration processes, first of all, in trade, economy and investment,” she noted.

She also expressed hope that Belarus’ CEI presidency will promote the country’s positive image in Europe. “We are considering ways to enhance cooperation with the CEI and Brussels, and perhaps with the countries (and organizations) outside of Europe,” she said. Belarus expects to intensify the bilateral cooperation with all CEI member countries through formalizing relevant arrangements in the course of multilateral events at ministerial, expert, parliamentary levels.

Alena Kupchyna also noted that Belarus plans to focus not only on the initiatives related to transport and logistics, but also on the whole host of issues to overcome the barriers in customs procedures, information technology standards, trade. “This is what we are going to work on. We are confident that not only the CEI member states, but also the other countries of Europe are interested in this,” she said.

The Central European Initiative (CEI) is a regional association created by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Yugoslavia in 1989. Today the organization consists of 18 states (Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Montenegro and Ukraine). Belarus joined the CEI in 1996.

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