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Belarus-EU ties similar to Lukashenko-opposition relationship – Polish FM

September 29, 2011, 15:39 UTC+3

Sikorski said, “Financial assistance to the republic and the strengthening of relations with the EU will be impossible until repressions continue”

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WARSAW, September 29 (Itar-Tass) — Relations between Belarus and Europe will be similar to relationship between President Alexander Lukashenko and the opposition, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said.

Speaking at a news briefing after the meeting with European Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and members of the Belarusian opposition, Sikorski said, “Financial assistance to the republic and the strengthening of relations with the EU will be impossible until repressions continue.”

“It is necessary to respect European standards in the attitude towards their citizens, especially the opposition,” the Polish minister added.

In his words, “Poland shows interest in the situation in Belarus and it will be the first country, which will offer aid to the republic when the authorities start respecting their citizens.” Warsaw handed over one million euros to the European Investment Bank for aid to Belarus, Sikorski added.

Hammarberg said the Council of Europe would try to help Belarus on its path to democracy because it was inadmissible to preserve dictatorship at the heart of Europe. Unfortunately, after the December 19, 2010 events the situation in Belarus aggravated. Many people ended up behind the bars because of their political views. The Council of Europe cannot agree with such position and is planning to struggle for observing human rights in Belarus, the European Commissioner for Human Rights stressed.

Sikorski said he is hopeful that during the European Partnership summit, all participants in the forum would condemn the situation in Belarus.

Belarus has not yet decided to give up its participation in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit to take place in Warsaw on September 29-30, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said.

Speaking at a news briefing, Savinykh said Belarus was planning to take part in the summit on the earlier agreed terms.

“We said we might refuse [to take part in the summit] whether Poland would try to regulate the format of Belarus’ participation,” the diplomat said.

At the same time, he stressed that Belarus had the sovereign right to independently determine the format for participating in the summit. In his words, Belarusian Ambassador to Poland Viktor Gaisenok will represent Belarus at the summit. “He will head the Belarusian delegation at the summit,” he added.

Commenting on why Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov declined to take part in the forum, the spokesman said, “At present, the minister is in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly session.”

Focusing on Minsk’s attitude towards the Eastern Partnership, Savinykh pointed out that in due time Belarus lauded an idea of creating this project and put forth several constructive proposals.

“We were impressed by the principles on the basis of which the Eastern Partnership was planning to be created,” the Belarusian diplomat stressed.

However, he said, “Today we observe politicisation to some extent and deviation from the earlier agreed principles.” “Groundless demands do not satisfy us. The principle of universality is challenged. We are convinced that these tendencies will cause damage to the Eastern Partnership. We hope that the interested parties will find a solution to the problem,” Savinykh emphasised.

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