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EU Officials Meet Belarusian Opposition Leaders

26 May 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Seven Belarusian opposition leaders, representing five different organizations, were in Brussels today at the invitation of the European Union.

They met the EU's foreign- and security-policy chief Javier Solana and Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, who is also in charge of the EU's European Neighborhood Policy.

Verheugen's spokesman, Jean-Christophe Filori, said after the meetings that the EU has frozen ties with Belarus and can do little as long as president Alyaksandr Lukashenka maintains his authoritarian regime.

Belarus is part of the European Neighborhood Policy, but cannot benefit from it until Brussels is convinced that it subscribes to democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.

Other countries in the region, such as Ukraine and Moldova, will this summer receive detailed action plans for greater integration with the EU. They can expect to profit from large aid flows, provided they undertake extensive political and economic reforms. All new neighbors are eventually offered full participation in the EU's single market.