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Italy hopes for Minsk-Brussels dialogue after sanctions' lift

February 23, 2016, 16:56 UTC+3 MINSK

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Benedetto Della Vedova said that Italy contributed to lifting sanctions from Belarus

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MINSK, February 23. /TASS/. Italy expects developing dialogue between Belarus and European Union (EU) after sanctions were lifted from Minsk, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Benedetto Della Vedova said on Tuesday.

"We welcomed lifting sanctions from your country. Moreover, we think that we gave an impetus to this event. Now, I am confident, cooperation will develop in both political and economic sphere between Belarus and Italy, as well as between Belarus and the European Union," Della Vedova told reporters after the session of Belarusian-Italian inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation.

The deputy foreign minister said that Italy contributed to lifting sanctions from Belarus. "We are happy to state that Belarus also fulfilled its commitments, we are talking about human rights and freeing political prisoners."

He noted that Belarus still has room to improve in the sphere of democracy and human rights. "We do not in any case intend to teach anyone a lesson but we think that Belarus still has an opportunity to improve in this sphere though it already made certain steps in democracy and human rights," he said.

Talking about the results of the session of the Belarusian-Italian inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation in Minsk, Della Vedova said it was an important step in bilateral relations. "We are glad to develop cooperation with countries that are not our traditional markets but are promising from this point of view. Belarus is very interesting for us," the diplomat concluded.

EU lifted sanctions from President Alexander Lukashenko and 170 other Belarusian officials earlier this month. However, the arms embargo remained in force.

The decision to partially lift sanctions was made in response to freeing political prisoners in Belarus last August in the context of improving relations between Brussels and Minsk. EU also noted falling number of violations at presidential election in Belarus on 11 October 2015 compared to previous voting. Many experts say that another factor in deciding to lift sanctions after 13 years was their ineffectiveness.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said on February 9 that "sanctions are not a good method to develop cooperation and inter-state relations." "We are ready to move along our part of the way in the framework of EU’s expectations. We are interested in looking for common ground through dialogue and moving on to normal cooperation," Makei said.

Sanctions against Minsk were gradually expanded until mid-2012 when it included 240 individuals and 32 legal entities. The restrictions have remained in force since then though the "black list" narrowed because several individuals passed away and others won lawsuits against EU.

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