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Opinions & Interviews

21 Jun 2018

Lukashenko praises Hahn’s role in Belarus-EU rapprochement

Lukashenko praises Hahn’s role in Belarus-EU rapprochement

MINSK, 21 June (BelTA) – Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko thinks highly of the role of European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn in normalizing the relations between Belarus and the European Union. The Belarusian leader made this statement as he met with Johannes Hahn on 21 June, BelTA has learned.

The Belarusian head of state thanked the European Commissioner for his contribution to the political and economic development of Belarus. “Your role is significant, first of all, because our major partners are the European Union and Russia. It is in many ways due to your efforts that our relations have been improving and have reached some level of stability,” Alexander Lukashenko noted.

He emphasized the fact that the EU is Belarus’ neighbor. “Neighbors are given by God, therefore we should be on friendly terms with them and promote partner relations. We took our time; we did not promise you the things we could not deliver. You were watching us closely; we were feeling the European Union out, too. Taking into consideration the ongoing transformations in Belarus and in the EU, we came to the conclusion that we should stop looking askance at each other while watching each other across the fence. We decided to make advances and restore friendly and partner relations,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

“We did not ask for EU membership, but we would like to have that level of relations with the EU that could be envied even by the EU members. If the European Union is ready for that, we are willing to do our part,” Alexander Lukashenko assured.

Speaking about Belarus-EU partnership agreements that are in the pipeline, Alexander Lukashenko noted that they should be underpinned by trade and economic relations. “Topics like democracy, freedom of speech, political prisoners, abolition of capital punishment are still on the agenda, we are not taking them off the table and we make no bones about it. However, the focus should be made on trade, economic and financial relations,” the head of state is convinced.

“If we see it in our relations with the EU, this will encourage us to embark on transformations and to reform our political system. Otherwise, we risk following suit of the Soviet Union that disregarded economic issues and ignored public opinion while breaking the political system. They destroyed the country and left it bankrupt. We are learning lessons from it,” he added.

The president emphasized that “if we embark on transformations, we should transform everything, but do it step by step taking into account economic interests and people’s needs”. “This should be at the heart of everything,” Alexander Lukashenko added.

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