Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

Lukashenka hails "serious turning point" in relations with West

By Dzmitry Ulasaw, BelaPAN

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on Thursday welcomed what he described as a "serious turning point in our relations with the West."

"Constructive, multifaceted cooperation with the European Union fully meets our national interests and so do efforts to develop trade and economic ties and intensify dialogue with the United States of America," he said while delivering his annual address to the nation and the legislature.

At the same time, Mr. Lukashenka said that he was concerned about too much talk and too little action at the current stage of Belarus' dialogue with the West. "We should not let this normal process drown in talk. And the West should understand that if our relations lose momentum we will turn out to be uninteresting to each other," he warned.

Belarus and the West should prioritize economic ties, he said. "But these relations and dialogue should be based on equal rights. We are interested above all in investment, technology transfer, the launch of state-of-the-art joint manufacturing companies, the involvement of Belarusian companies in international production chains," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka said that it was important to Belarus to prevent new dividing lines in Europe and secure close relations between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. Otherwise, he warned, Belarus may find itself at the "epicenter" of a new divide in Europe.