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16 July 2010

Lukashenko warns against illusions about Eastern Partnership

RECHITSA, 16 July (BelTA) – Belarusian President warned against illusions regarding the Eastern Partnership initiative. “We need to count on ourselves and on our own strength,” he said when talking to reporters during a working trip to the Gomel Oblast. Belarus was not dying to join the EaP. “Without Belarus the EaP will turn into GUAM,” Alexander Lukashenko noted. “We never begged for that membership. However, the West would never want the EaP to be GUAM. We never asked for the membership. But they offered it to us. Why do we need to be stubborn and turn this offer down,” the President noted. Alexander Lukashenko stressed that Belarus was vehemently against bringing democratic or other issues into the EaP. “Now they want us to change the election legislation. What is to the Eastern Partnership? We get these demands from the European Union and Americans on a regular basis. Now I think Russia will join in the tune though it is head over ears in problems itself. “I have always said that we do not need such policy in the EaP. We have it in the European Union,” the President said. “If you are thinking cooperation or good relations within the Eastern Partnership, then make it clear to us. If you feel uncomfortable dealing with us because we are dictatorship or something then you tell us, too. We are not overly enthusiastic about the EaP, and never were,” the Belarusian leader said. Alexander Lukashenko said that he had an open conversation with European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule during his recent visit to Minsk. The sides discussed a range of issues regarding the Eastern Partnership. Neither of these issues dealt with politics or democratization. Belarus’ policy will not be directed against Russia, Alexander Lukashenko said. “No way. This is all temporary. This all will pass. Russia is more afraid of losing Belarus than we of losing it. What partners will it be left with? I see everything clear. They want to keep us in line, but they will fail. As for the Eastern Partnership… If it brings us economic dividends, then why not,” the head of state said. For Belarus the main issues in the relations with the EU are visa requirements and creation of free trade zone, Alexander Lukashenko said.

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