Belarus FM: Lukashenka will come to Brussels when time is right

Belarus is set to further develop its cooperation with the European Union, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey said on Monday in the run-up to the Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting that will be held in Brussels on May 13-14 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the initiative.

The foreign ministers of the EU and EaP countries are expected to summarize what have been done for the past ten years and lay out priorities for the near future.

“We are determined to get the Partnership Priorities signed. Unfortunately, this process was suspended and it was not our fault. I hope that by the end of the year we will make progress with signing the agreements on visa facilitation and readmission. We will push for signing the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU. We will discuss all these matters today. A series of bilateral meetings have been planned,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the minister.

In his opinion, any initiative, including the EaP, will always have its own subtleties. Not a single country is satisfied is ok with every aspect when taking part in any integration project, Makey stressed. According to him, the sides should not be overwhelmed by negative trends, but should find ‘common ground’.

It should be recalled that the negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission began in 2014. Earlier, EU Delegation Head Andrea Wiktorin expressed hope that the document on simplifying the visa regime with Belarus would be signed at the end of 2018. As for the EU-Belarus partnership priorities, the Belarusian authorities have been saying that the signing of this agreement is the nearest prospect since 2017.

When asked about president Lukashenka’s visit to Brussels, Makey answered that the head of state failed to appear at the summit because the Belarus-EU relations had not yet reached a ‘fairly high level’.

“The president will come when the time is right. Some restrictions still remain in our relations. Frankly speaking, we do not expect any total efficiency of our attending today’s events. A visit should be rewarding and action-packed. That os our approach, but I think, in any case, the meetings that we will hold will be important to all the parties,” TUT.BY quotes Uladzimir Makey.

“Does it mean that Alyaksandr Lukashenka will arrive in Brussels only for signing one of the agreements with the EU?” the journalists wondered. “Let’s not plan too far ahead,” he answered.

As reported earlier, although the European Union invited Alyaksandr Lukashenka to dinner to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the EaP initiative, it was decided that Uladzimir Makey would replace him. In 2017, the top Belarusian diplomat also visited the EaP Summit, where the Belarusian president had been invited.

In March, Polish president Andrzej Duda issued invitations to the ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War to leaders of EU, NATO and the EaP countries, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka. But the Belarusian leader is unlikely to accept it as Russia’s Vladimir Putin was not invited to the event.

At the same time, Lukashenka is set to come to Vienna in H2 2019. Belsat TV sources have confirmed that his visit to Austria is in the making.

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