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Lukashenko sees new opportunities for bolstering Belarus-EU cooperation

It is important to continue the policy of full normalization of Belarus' relations with the European Union. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko made the statement during the government conference held on 5 April to discuss the Belarusian-European relations, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian leader. “It is important to continue the policy aimed at full normalization of relations and at advancing cooperation with the European Union in the context of our national interests. It is necessary to bolster the state sovereignty and independence, security and stability of Belarus,” said Alexander Lukashenko. The President noted that positive dynamics in Belarus' relations with the European Union has been registered lately. The level and intensiveness of contacts have increased. The general atmosphere has improved as well. “The European Union's decision to lift most of the sanctions from Belarus in February 2016 opens up new opportunities for advancing our interaction with the European Union. The step clearly indicates the readiness of the European Union and the member states to invigorate pragmatic cooperation with Belarus,” said the head of state. “It suits us absolutely. I've already said during meetings with representatives of the United States that we absolutely don't need political bias or excessive politics in the processes that should not be politicized. We need pragmatic relations.” Alexander Lukashenko underlined that Belarus cannot accept attempts of partners in the European Union or the USA to force the country to choose between advancing relations with the West or with Russia. “We don't need negotiation parameters like that. It is the worst choice we may have to make,” stated the President. “I think that Europe understands it perfectly well. At least the issue was not raised during my talks with representatives of the USA or Western Europe. At last everyone understands that the European Union needs Belarus that has been pursuing a multiple-vector policy for the last few years,” said the Belarusian leader. “It is our destiny to be between two centers of power. We cannot avoid it. We cannot ignore either of them. But Russians are our brothers whether some like it or not. Our relations with them should be consistent with the fact.” Alexander Lukashenko remarked that for the sake of advancing Belarus' relations with the European Union on the basis of pragmatism there are many opportunities. “On the other hand, we see the huge Russian market and the Eurasian market. Then there is the People's Republic of China. We have to bear these factors in mind,” stressed the President. The head of state noted that there are a number of issues still to be addressed in Belarus' relations with the European Union. “And they certainly need to be taken care of,” pointed out Alexander Lukashenko. According to the President, it is necessary to analyze the opportunities opening up before Belarus and determine the most beneficial ways of moving forward. “Primarily trade, economy, investment, and financial spheres. As well as the organization of joint counteraction of transboundary threats,” added the Belarusian leader. For the last few years Belarus has been negotiating the signing of a number of agreements with Belarus. This is why Alexander Lukashenko wondered how far the negotiations on the draft agreements on facilitating visa procedures and on readmission had advanced. “In order to make up our minds on partnership in the sphere of mobility with the European Union, it is necessary to clarify what benefits Belarus can get. Apart from that, we should discuss common approaches to the further liberalization of visa regulations,” said the President. The government conference focused on the development of the trade and economic dimension of cooperation with the EU which has been increasingly vibrant even in the period of sanctions in relation to Belarus. In view of the current situation in the global economy and new opportunities, there are good chances to make big progress in this area. Belarus and the EU are also mulling over the development and improvement of interaction in other fields. One of them is the counteraction of transboundary threats. It has been said that Belarus is making a big contribution to the pan-European security preventing illegal trade and migration from the East to the West. The work on the facilitation of visa regulations is underway; the dialogue on the expansion of cooperation in a number of fields is in progress. At the end of the session the President gave concrete instructions to bolster trade, economic and investment cooperation with the EU and other Western partners, build solid cooperation with European and international financial institutions.




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