Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

Belarus is "too demonized" in Europe, foreign minister says

Maryna Nosava, BelaPAN

There is often too much demonization of Belarus in Europe, Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey said after meeting with his Latvian counterpart, Edgars Rinkevics, in Riga on Thursday.

"Sanctions were imposed against Belarus in connection with the events that followed the presidential election, in connection with the arrest of several persons who had been involved in organizing disorders and attacks on government buildings," Mr. Makey said, according to the Belarusian foreign ministry’s press office. "When we meet with some of my European colleagues and talk unofficially, many agree that the situation in some other Eastern Partnership countries is neither worse nor better than in Belarus, maybe even somewhat worse in some areas. Ukraine was held up as an example some time ago, but we now see that the same representatives of the European Parliament are saying after visiting Ukraine that it is not an example, and that [Viktor] Yanukovych is a dictator."

Belarus and the European Union can cooperate in combating illegal migration, cross-border crime and trafficking in human beings and narcotic drugs, Mr. Makey said. Belarus has open borders with Russia, and tens of thousands of people from Central Asia and the Caucasian region enter the Belarusian territory every year to illegally get into the European Union later, he said.

The development of a transit system for carrying goods via the Belarusian territory is another promising area of cooperation, Mr. Makey said.

He expressed confidence that fully fledged cooperation between Belarus and the European Union would be restored sooner or later. "We’ve recently felt progress in this regard, and I think that this progress will be irreversible," he said.

Speaking about his meeting with Mr. Rinkevics, Mr. Makey said that an agreement had been reached for the foreign ministries of the two countries to hold consultations any time soon to discuss measures to resolve differences between Belarus and the EU and also issues relating to European security and integration processes in the CIS region.

Mr. Makey said that Belarus had already put forward specific proposals by way of preparation for the Fourth Eastern Partnership Summit, which will be held in Riga in 2015.