Alyaksandr Lukashenka on Friday called on the European Union to stop "senseless pressure on Belarus" and look for "common ground."
While accepting the credentials from a number of ambassadors representing EU countries, Mr. Lukashenka said that Minsk expected the 27-nation bloc to take steps to "restore trust in itself as an extremely serious partner and a good neighbor." "And the heads of EU countries' diplomatic missions play a significant role in this process," the government's news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.
Mr. Lukashenka stressed that the bloc should try to impose its values on countries that seek EU membership, but not on Belarus.
"We won't act on orders from someone outside on our path of evolutionary transformations or, if you will, the modernization of the political and economic system serving the interests of our people," he said.
Mr. Lukashenka noted that the purpose of "our reforms" was strengthening the position of Belarus as a "modern, responsible, democratic European state." He promised that Minsk would reciprocate a "kind and respectful attitude" from the EU.
Describing Belarus as an "integral part of present-day big Europe," Mr. Lukashenka said that the country shared "responsibility for its future" and was ready to "actively cooperate with European states in the cause of the entire continent's prosperity and security."
Addressing the EU ambassadors and the new British ambassador to Belarus, Bruce Bucknell, in particular, Mr. Lukashenka said, "I believe it's time we dropped these stereotypes and standard accusations of the European Union that target Belarus. It's time we looked for common ground."
During a short conversation with Lithuanian Ambassador Linas Linkevicius, Mr. Lukashenka expressed certainty that Belarus and Lithuania would resolve their differences. "I believe we cannot but cooperate," he was quoted as saying.
Mr. Lukashenka accepted the credentials of the new ambassadors of Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, the Sovereign Order of Malta, Turkmenistan, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.