No hot-buttons, just business: Lukashenka seeks ‘pragmatic relations’ with EU

Cooperation with the European Union should be advanced taking into account Belarus’ national interests, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at Tuesday’s government conference on Belarusian-European relations.

“It is important to continue the policy aimed at full normalization of relations and at advancing cooperation with the European Union in the context of our national interests. It is necessary to bolster the state sovereignty and independence, security and stability of Belarus,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka as saying.

The Belarusian leader once again praised the European Union’s decision to lift most of the sanctions from Belarus.

“It suits us absolutely. I’ve already said during meetings with representatives of the United States that we absolutely don’t need political bias or excessive politics in the processes that should not be politicized. We need pragmatic relations.”

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At that, Lukashenka stressed that Belarus cannot accept attempts of partners in the European Union or the USA to force the country to choose between advancing relations with the West or with Russia.

“It is our destiny to be between two centres of power. <…> But Russians are our brothers whether some like it or not,” he said and added that Belarus has its own interests on the huge Russian market’, the Eurasian market and in China as well.

According to the president, it is necessary to study the opportunities opening up before Belarus and determine the most beneficial ways of moving forward in the relations with the EU, e.g. trade, economy, investment, financial spheres and joint counteraction of transboundary threats.

“In order to make up our minds on partnership in the sphere of mobility with the European Union, it is necessary to clarify what benefits Belarus can get. Apart from that, we should discuss common approaches to the further liberalization of visa regulations,” Lukashenka said with reference to facilitating visa procedures and on readmission.

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