Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

Belarus so far not invited to Eastern Partnership summit

By Anastyasiya Salanovich, BelaPAN

Belarus so far has received no invitation to the forthcoming Eastern Partnership summit, Dzmitry Mironchyk, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, said at Thursdays briefing.

The Fourth Eastern Partnership Summit is scheduled to take place in Riga, Latvia, on May 21 and 22.

According to my information, such invitations so far have not been sent by the organizers of the given event, Mr. Mironchyk said.

While visiting Belarus this past February, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said that Riga would like all countries participating in the European Unions Eastern Partnership program to be represented at the summit at the highest level.

"We still have time to work on invitations," he said. "Who comes and who doesnt is up to the participants themselves, of course."

At the end of March, Latvian President Andris Berzins announced his readiness to meet with Alyaksandr Lukashenka if the Belarusian leader attends the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga.

"Why not [meet him] if he comes here?" Mr. Berzins said. He noted that invitations to the summit were extended by the European Union, not by Latvia.

"We have a clear interest - we are doing our utmost to ensure that relations [with Belarus] are like [relations] with the best neighbors, he said. This has been done on our part.

In mid-March, Latvian Ambassador Mihails Popkovs told BelaPAN that it is up to the Eastern Partnership countries to decide on the level of their participation in the summit.

Mr. Popkovs noted that invitations to attend the summit had traditionally been extended to countries and not government officials.

Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey represented Belarus at the Third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November 2013.

Since 2011, Mr. Lukashenka has been banned from entering the EU for ordering a post-election crackdown on his opponents.