The European Union is concerned about the lack of progress toward democracy in Belarus recently, outgoing British Ambassador Nigel Gould-Davies said at a farewell news conference in Minsk on September 1.
"The European Union has certain concerns that recently we have not seen the progress that there was previously," he said. The diplomat noted that Minsk had taken "certain steps" last year to improve relations with the EU. "We hope for continuation as this will be beneficial for Belarus," he stressed.
Mr. Gould-Davies said that the EU and the United States would consider whether or not to abolish their sanctions against Belarus’ top government officials this November. "If Belarus hopes for a favorable decision, it would be useful for it to do what it needs to," he said.
The EU wants the Belarusian authorities to reform the country’s electoral regulations and secure more freedom and rights for the media and civil society, according to the ambassador. "The European Union’s position on the subject remains steady and consistent. The EU displayed its readiness to respond to Belarus’ steps long ago. The EU is ready to continue expanding cooperation but expects certain efforts in return," he said.
Mr. Gould-Davies noted that the European Union’s decision to invite Belarus to participate in its Eastern Partnership program was evidence of the 27-nation bloc’s readiness to develop cooperation with the country.
"One should understand the importance of the Eastern Partnership in a broader sense. It not only allows Belarus to receive some material benefits but also has a symbolic importance. Belarus has been included in one of Europe’s main projects for the first time ever, which opens up new doors and opportunities for the country," he said.