Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

French ambassador: Belarus must make significant progress toward democracy

Belarus needs to make significant progress toward democracy and respect for fundamental values, freedom and justice in order to improve its image abroad, French Ambassador Mireille Musso said in an interview published by the state newspaper Respublika in its September 5 issue.

The diplomat noted that the development of relations between Belarus and France in the last 18 months gave grounds for optimism. A visit by a delegation of the Movement of French Enterprises (MEDEF), France’s largest union of employers, to Belarus this past January gave an impetus to the expansion of economic relations between the two countries, she said, adding that another delegation of French businesspeople would visit Belarus this fall.

Ms. Musso expressed certainty that bilateral relations would develop much faster if France had more information about Belarus. Each joint project has been the result of much effort and lengthy preparations so far, she said, urging the Belarusian embassy in France to work more actively.

Business contacts between Belarus and France will be expanded if Minsk "takes efforts to simplify conditions for cooperation," the ambassador said. "Your country should more actively liberalize the economy, diminish the role of the state in economic regulation," she was quoted as saying.

"Belarus is an intellectual, civilized country, where well-educated people live and they should enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms that representatives of other European countries have. From the point of view of the EU, your society should be more open," she said.

Ms. Musso said that France offered Belarus to sign a bilateral agreement on cooperation in the spheres of culture, science and technology.