Updated at 20:54,07-12-2016

Lithuania has no plans to invite Belarusian officials to EP summit, presidential advisor says

Lithuania has no plans to invite representatives of the Belarusian government to an Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November this year, Jovita Neliupsiene, foreign policy advisor to the Lithuanian president, said on January 18.

"The Eastern Partnership was established for governments to cooperate, but people who are subject to [travel] restrictions will not be invited to the meeting," Lithuania`s news website delfi.lt quoted her as saying.

David Kramer, executive director of Washington-based Freedom House, suggested earlier this month that Belarusian officials should not be invited to the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

"I don`t think you should have any government people from Belarus there if the current situation prevails," Mr. Kramer said while staying in Lithuania. "I would much prefer to have Belarus represented by civil society activists, human rights defenders."

The European Union`s Eastern Partnership program was launched at a summit in Prague, the Czech Republic, on May 7, 2009 with 33 countries participating: the 27 member states of the EU and six partner countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Belarus). The program is aimed at enhancing and improving the EU`s political and economic cooperation with these six post-Soviet countries from a long-term perspective.