The European Union and Belarus are ready to enter’a temporary stage of cooperation’, a new format of dialogue which will involve civil society, Dirk Schuebel, the visiting head of the European External Action Service’s division responsible for the European Union’s relations with the Eastern Partnership countries, said during a working visit in Minsk on February, 18.
According to the top official, the parties are eager to study the ways of their conceivable joint working on the modernisation of Belarus.
My trip aims to prepare late March’s visit of Gunnar Wiegand [EEAS Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia Regional Cooperation and OSCE countries], Mr Schuebel said.
The issue of nvestments and trade which is of importance for both the EU and Belarus is expected to become a starting point of the dialogue, he added.
At that, civil society will be involved in the process, he stressed. ‘During Ms Kupchyna’s [Deputy Foreign Minister] visit we agreed that civil society would become part of this temporary stage’.
The Belarusian authorities repeatedly turned down the EU’s proposals to participate in its initiative ‘The European Dialogue on Modernisation with Belarus’. ‘We are not taking part in the European dialogue on modernisation; it was launched without Belarusian representatives’ participation or consultations with the Belarusian government,’ Alena Kupchyna stated in September, 2013.
The most recent thaw in EU-Belarus relations occurred in 2008-2010. This period ended after the fraudulent December 19, 2010, elections and the ensuing repression of the opposition.