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Belarusian President Hails Eastern Partnership As 'Timely Idea'

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
MINSK -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka stressed in his annual address to the National Assembly that Belarus wants to normalize "difficult" relations with the European Union, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reports.

Lukashenka said the "idea of [the EU's] Eastern Partnership is timely. We have yet to work out the format of cooperation with Brussels."

He added that "we are going to where we are expected [to go]."

Lukashenka added that half of Belarus's trade turnover is with EU member countries.

Speaking about the opposition activists who appealed to the EU not to invite him to the EU summit on Eastern Partnership in Prague on May 7, Lukashenka called them "enemies of the people."

He singled out Alyaksandr Milinkevich, his rival in the 2006 presidential election, as the only one who did not join in the appeal.

Milinkevich told RFE/RL that he "is not working to receive praise from Mr. Lukashenka," saying that he believes the Eastern Partnership idea is beneficial for Belarus.