A Belarusian delegation led by Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey is to take part in the second round of the Informal Eastern Partnership Dialogue at the level of the foreign ministers of the participating countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program, which is to take place in Tbilisi, Georgia, on February 12 and 13.
According to the press office of the Belarusian foreign ministry, the ministers are expected to discuss intermediate results of the implementation of the Eastern Partnership program and prospects for its development in 2013, including "in the context of the forthcoming summit of the Eastern Partnership to be held in Vilnius in November."
The transport ministers of the Eastern Partnership participating countries are to hold a simultaneous meeting, which is expected to feature Siim Kallas, vice president of the European Commission and European commissioner for transport, the press office said.
The foreign ministers are expected to have meetings with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, the press office noted.
The Belarusian delegation is also expected to have a number of bilateral meetings, the press office said.
The 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.
After the Belarusian authorities’ crackdown on political opponents following a presidential election in late 2010, the EU suspended high-level contacts with the Belarusian government. Belarus refused to take part in an Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw in 2011 and a meeting of foreign ministry officials of the Visegrad Group and Eastern Partnership participating countries in Prague in 2012.
The Informal Eastern Partnership Dialogue is a platform for discussions designed to bolster cooperation and dialogue between the Eastern Partnership states and the EU in the spirit of the principles and objectives agreed at the Eastern Partnership summit, as well as to prepare annual Eastern Partnership ministerial meetings. The first round of the Dialogue took place in Chisinau, Moldova, on June 5, 2012. Belarus was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Alena Kupchyna.