Updated at 17:34,27-10-2020

Senior EU official holding talks in Minsk


Gunnar Wiegand, a senior official of the European Union’s European External Action Service, arrived in Belarus on February 8 to "establish a European dialogue on modernization with representatives of civil society and the political opposition".

Mr. Wiegand, who heads the Department for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation and the OSCE, planned to meet with human rights defenders, families of political prisoners, representatives of the diplomatic community, and government officials before wrapping up the visit on February 10, according to the press office of the EU's Delegation to Belarus.

Mr. Wiegand's meetings with government officials will "provide an opportunity to review the current state of relations between the EU and Belarus and to highlight EU concerns", the press office said.

"The EU aims at supporting a future transformation of Belarus into a country of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, and it continues to work with all those who support these aspirations", the press office said. "The Union continues to reach out to the people of Belarus and encourage a strong and unified approach in the drive towards transformation and modernization. It engages with the Belarusian civil society to discuss the potential European future for the country."

The press office noted "many fields" where the EU could assist Belarus through tools available within the European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership.

"There are action plans for reform. There is the potential of enhanced economic integration, investment and support for economic development of the country, the possibility of increased involvement of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and involvement of the European Investment Bank; there is EU macroeconomic assistance and the prospects of greater mobility", the press office said.

"The conditions need to be right for these opportunities to be taken advantages of, which is not the case at present. The EU continues to work closely with the Belarusian civil society to try and identify key reforms that would be necessary to unlock this support".