Updated at 14:13,22-06-2018

Relations between Belarus and Germany can improve, ambassador says

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

There are opportunities for improving relations between Belarus and Germany, German Ambassador Wolfram Maas told reporters in Minsk on Sunday.

Speaking during an event devoted to the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Maas said that the stumbling blocks to rapprochement between the two countries were well known.

However, the two years that I have worked here allow me to conclude that were moving forward in our relations, he said. Firstly, I think we may say that the atmosphere of the contacts has improved. Secondly, the level of the contacts gradually has increased and so has their frequency.

The most important thing is the significant progress in terms of the parameters and depth of the subjects under discussion, Mr. Maas said.

Of course, we havent yet reached the point where we would like to be, he acknowledged. But were on the right track, and I hope that the speed of this movement will increase, he said.

Mr. Maas gave an evasive response when asked whether or not the word thaw could be applied to the current stage of relations between Belarus and Germany. Certain problems still persist and there has been no change in this regard, he said. However, on a positive note, I would like to emphasize that therere parallel spheres where cooperation is possible and is going on now.

Mr. Maas stressed that the European Unions policy sanctions against Belarus was not a matter of bargaining or salami slicing. The EU is guided by law, he said. Its necessary to look in every specific case, whether therere preconditions for making some decisions.

Sanctions were imposed on Belarus because of specific problems and will not be removed until there is positive change, Mr. Maas noted.

The EU has repeatedly demanded the release of the political prisoners in Belarus as the main precondition for reengagement with Minsk.