Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Lukashenka wants EU to play greater role in customs infrastructure projects

By Maryna Nosava, BelaPAN

Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Thursday that he wanted the European Union to play a greater role in projects to develop customs infrastructure at the Belarusian border.

Speaking at a meeting with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) customs chiefs in Minsk, Mr. Lukashenka said that he would like "more participation from the EU in customs affairs." Belarus is extremely important both to Russia and to the EU as a transit route, the government's news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.

Mr. Lukashenka said that closer cooperation in customs affairs was key to economic development within the CIS. The ex-Soviet grouping has already adopted agreements on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs affairs, and on the establishment of a free trade zone, he said. Such agreements are based on the principles of the World Trade Organization, he said.

Mr. Lukashenka welcomed as "timely" the establishment of a committee of the heads of the customs agencies' law enforcement units within the council. It is customs that should protect the country against smuggled goods and illegal drugs in the first place, he said.