Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Foreign minister: Belarus demonized by EU media

Vyachaslaw Budkevich, BelaPAN

The European Unions media demonize Belarus, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey said in an interview with the Czech Republics newspaper Lidove Noviny.

Mr. Makey accused the 28-nation blocs media of hushing up Belarus successes and magnifying its problems out of proportion. In other countries no one pays attention to such problems, the governments news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.

The minister played up Belarus cooperation with neighboring EU countries. In particular, he said, Belarus annual trade with Lithuania has reached $1.5 billion, while much of Belarus freight traffic has been transported through seaports in Latvia and Lithuania. We share very close trade and economic ties. These countries have large ethnic Belarusian communities, we are connected with people-to-people ties. Thats why we have a bit more active political contacts with these countries, hold a number of meetings at the level of various ministries and agencies, he said.

Mr. Makey noted that relations between Belarus and the Czech Republic were hindered by the fact that the latter toed the EU line in relations with Minsk. He condemned the EUs sanctions against Belarusian government officials and other individuals as absurd. They have targeted people who have nothing to do with the very content of elections, he said, noting that the EU had blacklisted 10 journalists "for expressing their opinion," as well as members of election commissions and judges.

I believe that if we speak about the independence of the judiciary and media we should stick to this principle the whole way. The inclusion of journalists, judges in the sanctions list undermines the fundamental principles of the very democracy that the European Union is constantly telling us about, said the minister.

Mr. Makey noted that Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, opposed the sanctions against the Belarusian pro-government journalists and discussed the matter with EU officials, but the situation has not changed whatsoever so far.