Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vigenin meets the democratic opposition of Belarus

Euronest Co-Chairman Kristian Vigenin met the representatives of the democratic opposition of Belarus, led by Alaksandar Milinkievič, during which both sides exchanged their views on the situation in Balarus and the latter´s participation in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.

Vigenin stressed the importance of Belarus´ participation as observer in Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, which should be regarded as a way of building mutual understanding and creating opportunities to address issues of concern for both sides.

Referring to the Council conclusions of 17 November 2009, Milinkievič welcomed the new possibilities which have opened up for dialogue and deepened cooperation between the EU and the government of Belarus. He referred to this approach by the EU as a stepping stone to overcome the difficulties which the Belarusian people are undergoing under the current regime, as oppoesed to sanctions which led to no major developments in the recent years.

In its conclusions of 17 November, "The Council recalls the Joint Declaration of the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit on 7 May 2009 and welcomes the constructive and active participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership. In this context, and recognising the importance of enhanced people-to-people contacts, the Council invites the Commission to prepare recommendations in view of obtaining negotiating directives on visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Belarus, taking into account the common approach on visa facilitation, the recent evaluation of the existing visa facilitation agreements, as well as the findings of a technical expert mission to Belarus, and with a view to the possible adoption of these negotiating directives once relevant conditions are met.

The European Union reaffirms its readiness to deepen its relations with Belarus in light of further developments in Belarus towards democracy, human rights and the rule of law and to assist the country in attaining these objectives. Subject to progress in Belarus in these areas, the Council stands ready to take steps towards upgrading contractual relations with Belarus. Meanwhile, the Council invites the Commission to make a proposal for a joint interim plan to set priorities for reforms, inspired by the Action Plans developed in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, to be implemented with Belarus."

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