Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Belarusian opposition leaders meet with Polish foreign ministry official

Belarusian opposition leaders in Minsk on Thursday evening had a meeting with Ewa Figel, director of the Eastern Department of the Polish foreign ministry.

Participating in the meeting were Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party; Alyaksey Yanukevich, chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front; Vital Rymashewski, co-chairman of Belarusian Christian Democracy; Stanislaw Shushkevich, chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada; Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, chairman of the "Tell the Truth!" movement; Alyaksandr Milinkevich, chairman of the Movement for Freedom; Valery Matskevich, international secretary of Malady Front; and former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin.

"We discussed the current situation in Belarus and what`s likely to happen in the future," Mr. Lyabedzka told BelaPAN . "Disagreements among the Belarusian participants were minimal. The authorities are using force and persecution as their main tools of persuasion. They are seriously concerned about financial and economic problems and therefore make it as difficult as possible for opposition forces to talk to people."

There were some differences of opinion among Belarusian opposition politicians about how to engage with the Belarusian government, he said. For instance, the United Civic Party believes that there should be a dialogue between the authorities and opposition forces based on strict conditions and mediated by international organizations, he said. Some politicians think that any dialogue is better than no dialogue at all, Mr. Lyabedzka said.

"Figel told us that EU officials were discussing future relations with Belarus," he said. "She expressed hope that although there was no consensus among them at the moment, it would eventually be reached. However, everyone agrees that there will be no dialogue until the political prisoners are released."

As for the United Civic Party, it views the release and exoneration of the political prisoners and the creation of conditions for free and fair elections as the most important prerequisites for a dialogue, Mr. Lyabedzka said.

Also on Thursday, Ms. Figel met with Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Alena Kupchyna.

Under discussion were important issues concerning the relationship between Belarus and Poland and other topics of mutual interest, reported the Belarusian foreign ministry.