FM pushes for Lukashenka’s participating in EaP summit without political prisoners’ release

The Belarusian delegation will take part in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Riga only on equal footing, Foreign Minister of Belarus Uladzimir Makey said in an interview to TV channel ONT.

“We should be invited on equal footing and take an equal part so as to rule out any discrimination towards Belarus,” state-run newsagency BelTA cites the minister.

The minister added that Belarus would continue its participation in the Eastern Partnership program ‘until it brings positive results’. The decision on who is going to head the delegation will be taken later.

Last Thursday Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrius Krivas said Europe will lift the existing sanctions against Belarusian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka only after ‘major progress in the area of human rights’ is shown and political prisoners are released, commenting his recent meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alena Kupchyna in Minsk.

According to Krivas, EU-Belarusian agreements on a facilitated visa regime and readmission might be initialled during the upcoming EU Eastern Partnership summit in Riga in May. But it is too early to lift all the sanctions, the top official stressed.

The Belarusian HRC “Viasna” states that there are five political prisoners – people who are unlawfully deprived of liberty because of their political views, and demands their immediate release – in Belarus. Mikalai Statkevich, the 2010 presidential candidate, is also among them.

The EU blacklisted Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka, his sons Viktar and Dzmitry, head of the Central Election Commission Lidziya Yarmoshyna, KGB Chief Valery Vakulchyk and a number of Belarusian ministers, top officials, judges, journalists and presidential bagmen who are accessory to serious violations of human rights, for the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition or for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Belarus, or persons benefiting from or supporting the Lukashenka regime.

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