Transition from political to legal sphere

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, Vladimir Makei, tells BNS News Agency that he desires a reconsidered approach regarding EU relations 
By Veniamin Mishin

Mr. Makei commented in his interview, “Regarding our relations with the European Union, I think that we should slightly reconsider our approach, and step aside from making unsubstantiated accusations against each other, rather aiming for open dialogue and constructive interaction.” He is keen to see both sides defining their priorities. “We have never said that we’d like to join the EU, although we won’t exclude the prospect either. We’ve always said that we want to have ‘normal’ relations with the EU.” He added, “We want to build trade and economic relations, as well as humanitarian partnerships, helping maintain pan-European safety. Gradually, people will feel the attractiveness of the EU.”

The Minister considers that ‘the EU should take care with its image in the eyes of Belarusians’, saying, “We lived long in the Soviet Union, and focused more on the East. Therefore, we still need to be shown why the EU is attractive. This doesn’t mean that we’re going to break relations with Russia — as some countries speculate. No, we will always have very firm, reliable, strong ties with our eastern neighbour, being connected by so many ties: economic, human and so on.” 

He continued, “We’d like to enjoy close relations with the EU but there must be a strategy of relations. The EU should understand that it needs an independent, sovereign, territorially complete Belarus: stable and safe. Our country has no desire to create problems for the EU, so let’s build relations between our countries, Belarus and the EU, on this basis.”

Mr. Makei notes that both sides need to tackle existing problems in relations. He notes that Belarus desires to see sanctions revoked, while the EU has asked for political prisoners to be released. He explains that Belarus wishes to see matters ‘handled according to the law’ rather than through political avenues. “If the court or corresponding law-enforcement structures consider that a particular person should be released, or if this person writes a plea for mercy, the corresponding commissions or bodies will examine these applications and submit them for consideration to the Head of state,” said the Minister.
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