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Opinions & Interviews

6 Apr 2018

Progress on sensitive issues in Belarus’ discussion with EU, USA detailed

Progress on sensitive issues in Belarus’ discussion with EU, USA detailed

MINSK, 6 April (BelTA) – In the latest interview with the Euronews TV channel Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei talked about work on sensitive issues in discussion with the European Union and the United States of America, BelTA has learned.

Among other things Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei was asked about human rights, freedom of expression and assembly, and an electoral reform. “Yes, the matters you’ve mentioned are on the agenda of our discussion with the European Union. Not only the European Union, but the USA, too,” said the official.

“Today’s situation is absolutely different from what we had two years ago. We’ve restarted the dialogue on human rights with the European Union and the USA. As you may know, we have developed and adopted the national action plan on human rights for the first time in the history of sovereign Belarus. The plan had been prepared in tight cooperation with non-governmental organizations. We’ve launched a dialogue with the civil society. I think it is very important. We cooperate with non-governmental organizations in implementing this action plan and discuss the steps that should be made in the future. Apart from that, we work with various international organizations, the European Union, and European ambassadors to Belarus in this sphere,” said Vladimir Makei.

“Thus, a lot has been accomplished already, but a lot has yet to be done. We understand it. If there are some sensitive issues — capital punishment or other things — I think our partners should bear in mind the concrete circumstances, conditions, the situation that obtains here, in our country,” stressed the Belarusian minister of foreign affairs.

Vladimir Makei remarked it is impossible to achieve everything in one go. “It is impossible to go to sleep in the Soviet Union only to wake up in a genuine European democratic state. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to learn. We are ready to learn, including from European ‘textbooks’. But we lived in the Soviet Union, in the Soviet era for a long time. Many Belarusians still maintain the Soviet mentality. Because the Soviet Union taught us that rights of individuals do not play the dominant role in a society. It taught us that collective rights, social rights should come first. The right to education, to labor, to housing, and so on,” said the official.

“Besides, our people are accustomed to the state taking care of them. They’ve always known that they can rely on the state. This mentality still affects the situation in Belarus. Apart from that, we see negative examples in some neighboring countries. This is why Belarus would like to move forward taking small steps, without breaking the stability in the society,” noted the official.

Vladimir Makei said he believes human rights can be fully implemented only in an economically developed society, which has reached a certain level of economic, political, and social development. A number of resolutions passed by the European Parliament confirm it. The resolutions state that human rights can be implemented only in a stable society and in stable economic conditions.

“We pay close attention to stability because we would like to keep Belarus free of conflicts. By the way, Belarus is the only ex-USSR state, which has not had military conflicts since becoming independent,” noted Vladimir Makei. “Therefore, stability comes first for us. Certainly, it doesn’t mean that we want to freeze the situation in Belarus. We are ready to grow and cooperate with European partners, including on the most sensitive issues. But we will advance forward very carefully in order to secure the stable development of the society and the state in order to ultimately achieve the main goal — full membership in the family of European democracies.”

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