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Opinions & Interviews

5 Mar 2019

Lukashenko: Ice in Belarus-EU relations has not melted away

Lukashenko: Ice in Belarus-EU relations has not melted away

MINSK, 5 March (BelTA) – Belarus has been successfully developing a dialogue with its second largest partner, the European Union, but the ice has not yet melted away in the relations, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at a session to discuss integration projects and cooperation with European organizations on 5 March, BelTA has learned.

“The ice in relations with the European Union has not melted away. Brussels has extended its restrictive measures, even though symbolic. A fly in the ointment. They make almost no sense but carry some symbolic meaning. The EU bargains with us even on trifles. The EU evades talking about the new framework agreement. So far there is no clear legal framework of interaction,” the president said.

At the same time the EU has such agreements with Russia and other former Soviet countries. “By the way, Russia’s relations with the European Union, the United States and NATO are much more advanced. And we do not rebuke Russia for that. We look for benefits in these agreements. We are not trying to scuttle their efforts or impede them. We are in favor of these efforts. I think Russia must act the same way and support us. Not in words but in deeds,” Alexander Lukashenko

The head of state stressed that Belarus has been successfully developing a dialogue with its second largest partner, the European Union. “Investments are on the rise, the trade surplus has been growing, contacts are developing. Last year saw a record high volume of cooperation with the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.”

He added that the loan agreements were reached during the recent talks with the EBRD: “The agreements cover the most important areas, including renovation and upgrade projects, construction of new water facilities, bridges and roads in Belarus.”

According to Alexander Lukashenko, the Eastern Partnership is becoming more pragmatic, offering a bigger number of interesting projects to Belarus. “This cooperation with the west causes some kind of allergy and sometimes hysteria of our main partner, the Russian Federation (I mean, individual politicians) today. What is this hysteria for? You restrict market access for our products, call us parasites, squeeze us out where you can. What should we do? Go away and stay mealy-mouthed?” the Belarusian leader asked.

“If you close the door in our face, we start searching for other options so that our state should live a normal life. No one can blame us for going somewhere. We do not need to choose. We need to be always on the move because we are in the epicenter, in the center of Europe,” the president said. “We need to secure good living conditions for our 10 million population. We would not have to seek happiness far away if we had good economic relations with Russia, if we secured free movement of products, workforce and services on equal terms (as we agreed on in the Union State, the Eurasian Economic Union)?”

Alexander Lukashenko called the signing of the Partnership Priorities Agreement and the readmission and visa facilitation agreement with the EU among the overriding goals in cooperation with the European Union. “The EU, however, should understand that any ideas alien to our people and changes to the detriment of the national interests are absolutely inadmissible for us,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

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