The European Union will outline areas where it could cooperate with Minsk provided that it starts respecting the bloc’s principles, Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the EU`s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, told BelaPAN on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Warsaw on September 29 and 30.
The EU is set to send a double message to Minsk by reiterating its previous demands and listing areas of possible cooperation, said Ms. Kocijancic.
She said that the EU had repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to not only release all political prisoners but also exonerate them, noting that Minsk had taken only some steps in the direction and the demand still held.
Commenting on sanctions introduced by the EU against Minsk earlier this year for a crackdown on political opponents following last December’s presidential election, Ms. Kocijancic stressed that they were directed at the political elite behind the crackdown, not the general population.
Another important question on the agenda, which the Belarusian authorities still should answer, is about little progress in talks about a bilateral agreement on visa facilitation and readmission, she said.
The flawed presidential election and the brutal dispersal of the December 19, 2010 post-election protest in Minsk caused great concern and outrage in the EU and affected the bilateral relations, she noted.
According to Ms. Kocijancic, Belarus receives the least amount of benefits from the EU among the six countries participating in the Eastern Partnership, which also include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Countries that make progress receive much more financial assistance from the EU under the bloc’s European Neighborhood Policy, which suggests that the EU`s eastern neighbors should take a more serious attitude to reforms and keep their promises, the spokesperson added