Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Italian ambassador: Belarus could change status of its relations with EU overnight

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Belarus could change the status of its relations with the European Union "today or tomorrow," Italian Ambassador Arnaldo Abeti told reporters in Minsk on June 3.

The release of the political prisoners would be the most efficient step toward rapprochement, Mr. Abeti said.

The declaration of a moratorium on the death penalty would also help improve the Belarus-EU relationship, he said.

Mr. Abeti did not rule out that the EU would decide to lift its travel ban against Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey and invite him to an Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Vilnius in November 2013. He noted that such a decision could only be made if all EU member states voted for it. Although there are still disagreements on this issue, it is possible that a consensus will be reached, he said.

Italy continues to be interested in Belarus despite the fact that the Italian government has changed since Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visited Belarus in 2009, Mr. Abeti said.

He acknowledged that political relations between Belarus and the EU had deteriorated following the December 2010 presidential election in Belarus. However, bilateral relations "at the human level" remain excellent, Mr. Abeti said.