Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Lukashenka wants rapprochement with EU

Belarus hopes for "active normalization" of its relations with Europe during the period of Lithuanias presidency of the EU Council, Aliaksandr Lukashenka said while accepting the credentials of Lithuanian Ambassador to Belarus Evaldas Ignatavicius.

Belarus and Lithuania share a common history, culture, values and traditions and have "nothing to divide," state-owned news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka as saying.

"If Lithuania wants to cooperate with usand it doesand if Lithuania gets rid of some outside pressures, well build relations that our nations want, and not only [our] nations but also our and your political elites," the President said. "Rest assured that were ready for this."

Aliaksandr Lukashenka said that he "understands" the Lithuanian government. "I understand and see everything," he said. "But even so, its time to cast off the burden and the shackles of outside influence little by little."

Addressing other foreign diplomats who were to present their credentials to him, the Belarusian leader dismissed allegations that Belarus is a dictatorship. "Dont believe that were a rogue state, as some write, that this country doesnt deserve attention, that its an undemocratic country, and that its actually a dictatorship," he said. "I think that as ambassadors, youll see the situation in Belarus for yourself very well."

According to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, as the holder of the EU presidency between July and December 2013, Lithuania will be responsible for dealings with Belarus as the fall summit of the EUs Eastern Partnership program draws near.