Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Lukashenka promises ballot access for all presidential hopefuls


Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that Alyaksandr Lukashenka had promised to her at their meeting in Minsk on Wednesday that all presidential hopefuls would be placed on the ballot and that the December election would be observed by monitors.

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Mr. Lukashenka said that "Belarus seeks to ensure that no one points fingers at us after the election." "The incumbent president absolutely does not need this," he said.

It is necessary for Belarus to ensure that "this election is not worse than the previous one," Mr. Lukashenka said. "Although I don’t know what was wrong with that election," he added.

"Our direct interest is that all candidates should be registered," Mr. Lukashenka said.

Ms. Grybauskaite expressed hope that "Belarus will become more open and defend human rights after the election." "Lithuania, just as the European Union, is looking at Belarus and the new election with hope. Europe is ready to recognize the election as open if you manage to show this," she said.

"For 10 years, Europe built a `Chinese wall` between itself and Belarus, but there must be no such wall. Only cooperation will benefit both Europe and Belarus," the Lithuanian president said.

Mr. Grybauskaite described her visit as evidence of Lithuania`s decision to step up its dialogue with Belarus. "We cannot offer anything to Belarus forcibly but we are open to dialogue," she said.

Responding to the remark, Mr. Lukashenka said, "We are ready to accept any assistance from the Lithuanian government and president but, of course, taking our interests into consideration."

He expressed certainty that Belarus` relations with Lithuania and the EU would be intensified after the presidential vote.