Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

UK ambassador calls for caution on relations with Belarus

Naviny.by

Relations between Belarus and the European Union should be improved "cautiously and gradually," UK Ambassador Bruce Bucknell said in an interview with BelaPAN on Thursday.

He noted that Belarus and the EU had intensified their contacts recently and recalled Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius` visit to Minsk last week.

The EU is considering ways to improve relations with Minsk, according to the ambassador.

At the same time, Mr. Bucknell warned, a dramatic change in the EU`s policy toward Belarus amid Russia`s falling-out with Ukraine and the EU can further destabilize the situation. "If we act hastily trying to speed up the improvement of relations… this may not be liked by Russia. And we don’t want to destabilize the situation in Belarus and the region in this way," he said.

"The fact that there are Russian military bases in Belarus also forces us to work on the improvement of relations with Belarus cautiously, slowly and gradually," said the ambassador.

Belarus is a military ally of Russia and "when tensions build up, every country looks at its military alliances and agreements," according to Mr. Bucknell. "Looking at what is happening in Ukraine, we decided to support our NATO allies in the Baltic and Poland. In the same way Belarus, a close ally of Russia, devotes attention to its military agreements," he said.

"Increasing tensions between NATO and the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] is the last thing that we want," said Mr. Bucknell.