Updated at 21:48,17-09-2020

EU has strategy on Belarus, Lithuanian foreign minister says

By Iryna Lewshyna, BelaPAN

The European Union has a strategy on Belarus, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told reporters in Vilnius on January 5.

"I think there's a strategy, including thanks to our efforts," the news website delfi.lt quoted him as saying.

The minister reportedly said that the 28-nation bloc's past policy of isolating Belarus had failed to work as it had "restricted its own effect, the possibility of contacts." "And we have proved that contacts and our influence have indeed produced a certain result," he said.

The EU's current strategy envisages easing pressure on the Belarusian government and motivating Minsk to secure democratic change, according to Mr. Linkevicius. "[It also envisages] trying to get off the ground the agenda that is important to Belarus and to all of us, for instance mobility. Belarus' stance on facilitating movement has changed. I think this is also part of the strategy," he said.

The Lithuanian minister warned that it was up to Belarus to conduct reforms and choose its path of development. "But we hope that the country will be changing thanks to contacts, cooperation. This is also part of the strategy. In this case we will be looking for ways to develop relations," he said.

The minister noted that Belarus wanted to sign a special agreement with the EU, although the matter had not been discussed so far.

He said that the EU would welcome any arrangement that would make it possible for Minsk to maintain contacts with the bloc, "find common interests, particularly with a condition that they don't forget the key principles and values of democracy, don't relapse into violence, which we have already seen and don't want to repeat."

"I hope very much that [the process] will not be interrupted by some events that may happen and we will manage to keep it up," said Mr. Linkevicius.