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5 Sep 2016

Negotiations on natural gas, oil totally unrelated to Belarus-EU normalization talks

MINSK, 5 September (BelTA) – Progress in Belarus-Russia negotiations on oil and natural gas should not be tied to the normalization of Belarus’ relations with the European Union. Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei made the relevant statement on 5 September, BelTA has learned.

Vladimir Makei said: “I am familiar with the opinions periodically voiced by mass media, which say that some problems in our relations with Russia as our key ally and partner are somehow connected with Belarus’ attempts to normalize relations with the European Union. I don’t think it is the official Moscow party line.” In his words, the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs discussed the matter with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who stated in no uncertain terms that Russia is interested in normal relations between Belarus and the West.

“A great deal has already been said about normalizing Belarus’ relations with the European Union and other Western partners. The Belarusian head of state has spoken about it many times — we are not going to sever relations with our traditional partners, but due to the current situation it is vital for Belarus to enjoy normal relations with the European Union, the USA, and other key players in various regions,” added Vladimir Makei.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs described negotiations on natural gas and oil primarily as a dispute between commercial entities. “Negotiations are in progress now. I am convinced that we will be able to find a compromise solution to the issues that exist. I don’t think that anyone in Russia is going to tie political matters to purely economic ones,” said the official.

Vladimir Makei concluded: “Belarus has always honored and will honor the commitments we have undertaken as part of our membership in various integration structures and associations. We will never make any steps that will run contrary to these commitments.”

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