Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Belarus-EU: Lukashenka to go to any lengths?


Belarus is ready to take any steps to normalize its relations with the European Union, but the ball is in the bloc's court now, Aliaksandr Lukashenka said while accepting the credentials of new foreign ambassadors in Minsk on December 16, 2013.

According to him, Belarus and the EU would have to improve their relations because of the country's proximity to the bloc. 'We will have to live together as neighbours,' news agency BelaPAN quotes the Belarusian President as saying.

Although Mr Lukashenka admitted the hoariness of the cliche he stressed that the ball was indeed in the EU's court. He also noted that effective cooperation in the field would only be possible on condition of equal rights and mutual respect.

'Lukashenka has a concern in keeping a window to the EU open, which the Belarusian delegation's participation in the Vilnius EaP summit and FM Makey's words about relaxing visa regime with the EU speak for,' political analyst Valer Karbalevich says. In his opinion, Belarus is interested in cooperating with the block because of economic woes: Russia does not seem to be able to meet all Belarus's wants.

When asked about the possibility of Lukashenka's decision to release the political prisoners to improve the bilateral he expert dropped a hint of a doubt, 'One should always be wary of the presidential statements which are often metaphorical. It is highly unlikely that the prisoners will be released, but the possibility should not be fully ruled out,' Mr Karbalevich emphasized.

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It is to be recalled that on November 29, 2013, during the Vilnius EaP summit, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt declared that the European Union`s stance on Belarus had not changed. 'Our demands are the same—the release of the political prisoners and democratization,' Mr. Bildt said.

'Mr Makey [Belarusian FM] knows what should be done,' he said. 'I think that it is possible for him to influence the decision-making process'.