2009 22/03

The issue of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s invitation to the summit of the EU countries leaders and the six post-Soviet countries to Prague remains open.

On March 20 in Brussels leaders of the EU countries approved the new Eastern partnership program. 6 post-Soviet countries are included into the program: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The program envisages economic integration and political rapprochement of the EU with these states. Financial support of the member states was discussed at the session as well. The EU’s leaders agreed to set aside €600 million for the program’s implementation.

The level of participation in the Eastern partnership for Belarus is to depend on the progress of the democratic reforms in the country.

In particular, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, notes that among the steps the EU expects from Minsk are: a reform of the electoral legislation, approach of citizens to independent information, improvement of the situation with NGOs, guaranteeing of freedom of associations. “If Belarus makes a choice in favour of reforms and greater openness, the EU is ready to give a positive answer and help Belarus in any way possible way,” the European Commissioner said.

As we have informed, on the eve of the Eastern Partnership’s adoption, when addressing the summit of the European People’s Party in Brussels, the leader of “For Freedom” movement Alyaksandr Milinkevich called upon the EU to cooperation with the Belarusian authorities.

“If we are thinking about the future of Belarusians, we should carry out the policy of “dosing” carrot, and not a stick. Such a policy would be effective and promising. The door to Europe could be opened wider of half-closed when needed”, the politician said.

It should be noted also, that despite of approving Belarus as a member of the Eastern Partnership program, the issue of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s invitation to the EU summit to Prague on May 7 hasn’t been decided yet.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s invitation to depend on behaviour of Belarusian officials, the Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg stated.

“As for Lukashenka, I think it is a different issue. Lukashenka’s being invited or not would depend on the behavior of the Belarusian regime in the coming weeks,” the Czech foreign minister said.
Source: www.charter97.org

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