Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Foreign ministry: Belarus is interested in "stable" relations with neighboring countries

Tanya Korovenkova, Naviny.by

Belarus is interested in "stable political, economic and humanitarian relations with neighboring brotherly countries," Dzmitry Mironchyk, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry, told BelaPAN on Monday while commenting on the situation in Ukraine and Crimea.

"We are ready to exert every effort to return the relationship between Ukraine and Russia to a normal track," Mr. Mironchyk said. "We have always said that it is necessary to find ways of resolving issues by diplomatic means through dialogue and prevent the use of force by any side."

When asked whether Belarus had changed its stance on the need to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine about which Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey spoke at the beginning of March, Mr. Mironchyk said that the "foreign ministry does not disavow all statements made earlier."

On March 3, Mr. Makey told the Baltic News Service that Belarus was interested in Ukraines "stability, territorial integrity and independence and not in what is going on there today."

As many as 95.7 percent of Crimeas residents reportedly voted to break away from Ukraine and be incorporated into Russia in a referendum on March 16.

Ukraine and the West have dismissed the referendum as illegitimate under Ukrainian and international law. The White House has said in a statement that the vote was administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.

The European Union on Sunday repeated its strong condemnation of the referendum and called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the region.