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23 May 2016

Makei: Italy has always maintained a constructive position on Belarus

MINSK, 23 May (BelTA) – Italy has always maintained a pragmatic constructive position on Belarus, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said in an interview to the ONT TV channel, BelTA has learned.

“For us Italy has always been an important trading and economic partner and will remain so. Moreover, I would like to say that Italy has always maintained quite a pragmatic constructive position on Belarus, even during the time of strained relations with the European Union. We have always found ways to cooperate,” noted the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Speaking about the recent visit of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to Italy, Vladimir Makei noted that it was aimed at maintaining political contacts and developing the trade and economic cooperation. “Some two or three years ago we had more than $2 billion in trade with Italy. Unfortunately, last year the trade shrank almost three times. Today’s number one goal is to get our trade and economic relations back to the level we were before,” he stressed. The major theme for discussion between the President of Belarus and the President of Italy was the development of trade and economic cooperation with Italy, Vladimir Makei said.

Alexander Lukashenko’s visit to Italy can be considered as a testimony to the improving relations between Belarus and the European Union, the minister said. “At the time when we had problems in the relations with the EU, I mean the sanctions, such a visit would have been impossible. Now we see the relations with our European friends improve. They meet us halfway in the issues we raise and matters that can be settled today,” stressed Vladimir Makei.

“It was not us who initiated these sanctions. Unfortunately, it happened like this. I personally believe that these years were wasted both for Belarus and the European Union. Belarus is not some troublemaker in the region. The country is a donor of stability. We will repeat it until it is finally realized,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs said.

Vladimir Makei noted that the understanding of the true role of Belarus in the region, its independent position on some issues have led to better relations with the EU, and this is very important. Government members and economic entities should take advantage of this, he said. “We need to materialize the current political trend in the relations with the EU, and, I would say, turn it into trade and economic achievements with this or that country. And this is what we are doing,” Vladimir Makei said.

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