Lithuania ready to cooperate with Belarus, expects more steps towards democracy – PM

Lithuania is ready to continue its political dialogue with Belarus, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said after Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s re-election for his fifth term of office. He also stressed the importance of bilateral economic relations.

“Lithuania constantly follows how Belarus is fostering values and what course it is taking. We cannot ignore the beginning of changes there. Belarus did not join Russia’s sanctions against us and the European Union, which was a positive step. We also should take into account that the country has released its political prisoners. However, we expect other moves towards democracy from Belarus because the current developments are just the very beginning,” quotes Prime Minister with reference to the national radio LRT.

The Council of the European Union made a decision to suspend sanctions against Belarus for the period of four months, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Desir said on Monday. “The decision on the future of the sanctions needs to be taken by the end of October,” Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said.

Although the recent presidential election in Belarus was recognised by CIS countries, the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) stated that ‘significant problems, particularly during the counting and tabulation, undermined the integrity of the election’.

“Belarus still has considerable way to go towards fulfilling its OSCE commitments for democratic elections,” High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in their statement on the presidential election in Belarus.

The United States also expressed disappointment over the fact that the election ‘fell significantly short of Belarus’ international obligations and commitments for free and fair elections’.

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