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Lukashenko on Eastern Partnership

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 7
On May 7, 2009 the Czech capital Prague will host the summit of EPP participating countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It has been questioned whether Belarus would participate, given the pressure it is under from Moscow. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has tried to ensure its attendance by handing over the invitation to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in person. Although it has become known that Lukashenko will not participate in the summit, First Deputy PM Vladimir Siemaszko and FM Sergey Martinov will lead the Belarus delegation.

The Belarus Foreign Ministry Press Centre explains that the Eastern Partnership has only secondary significance for Belarus and the Government is competent to handle this issue. The Belarus Foreign Minister has stated that forming the partnership should serve to strengthen the unity of the East European contingent without creating new border lines and spheres of influence.

President Lukashenko himself is considering improving relations with the West to balance his country’s foreign policy, but at the same time highlighted that he wants to maintain friendly relations with Russia. By participating in the EPP Belarus will not turn back towards Russia, but neither will its presence there be an anti-Russian act.

Belarus is also considering recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia’s breakaway regions, as ‘independent states’. On this matter Lukashenko has expressed the hope that the decision will be well-thought out and balanced so that there will be no negative side.