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Belarusian Foreign Minister Backs Cooperation With EU Eastern Partnership

Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makey
Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makey
BRUSSELS -- Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey says his country is interested in cooperating with all aspects of the European Union's Eastern Partnership program.

Makey met with EU commissioners on July 23 in Brussels. It was the first such visit by a senior Belarusian official since EU sanctions were imposed on government officials after the disputed 2010 Belarus presidential election and a subsequent crackdown on opposition supporters.

The EU recently lifted visa restrictions on Makey, who was among a number of blacklisted officials, so that he could make the trip.

Makey spoke told journalists after leaving a meeting between EU officials and the six Easter Partnership countries and said that they had discussed a declaration that will be endorsed at the upcoming Vilnius Summit.

"We made some proposals to the declaration," he said. "First of all, we think that all partner states should be treated on an equal basis, a nondiscriminatory basis. We expressed our interest in cooperating in all the spheres of the Eastern Partnership [program]."

The Vilnius Summit takes place in November, and it is expected that Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine will attend.

In an interview with RFE/RL on July 22, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele indicated that he had had a chance to speak directly with Makey.

"We talked very shortly before the meeting and there we both agreed that his presence, hopefully, means, or represents, a sustainable communication with the Belarusian authorities," Fueles said. "On one side delivering on the conditions put forward by all the [EU] member states, and at the same time using to the full extent what the Eastern Partnership offers, not only in the multilateral dimension but also, the bilateral one."

The Eastern Partnership seeks to encourage democratic and economic reforms to bring countries in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus closer to the EU.
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