European Commission top official to hold series of meetings in Minsk

Gunnar Wiegand, Director for Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, Central Asia (Directorate General External Relations, European Commission), schedules appointments with human rights defenders, political prisoners’ families, diplomatic staff members and representatives of the Belarusian government. These meetings will “provide an opportunity to review the current state of relations between the EU and Belarus and to highlight EU concerns,” the press service of the EU Delegation to Belarus reports.

The key objective of his visit to Belarus is to “establish a European dialogue on modernization with representatives of civil society and the political opposition.”

“The EU aims at supporting a future transformation of Belarus into a country of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, and it continues to work with all those who support these aspirations,” the press service points out. “The Union continues to reach out to the people of Belarus and encourage a strong and unified approach in the drive towards transformation and modernization. It engages with the Belarusian civil society to discuss the potential European future for the country.”

The EU has already been of assistance to Belarus in many fields but support might be lent through tools available within the European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership as well, the EU Delegation to Belarus mentions.

“There are action plans for reform. There is the potential of enhanced economic integration, investment and support for economic development of the country, the possibility of increased involvement of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and involvement of the European Investment Bank; there is EU macroeconomic assistance and the prospects of greater mobility,” the press service says. But it also notes that the conditions need to be right for these opportunities to be taken advantages of, which is not the case at present. According to the press service, the EU continues to work closely with the Belarusian civil society to try and identify key reforms that would be necessary to unlock this support.

Gunnar Wiegand’s visit will extend to February, 10, 2012.


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