4 Jun 2019 16:00

Remaining EU sanctions against Belarus behind Lukashenko's refusal to attend EaP anniversary events

MINSK. June 4 (Interfax) - The European Union's sanctions against Belarus which still remain in place prompted Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to decide against attending events dedicated to the tenth anniversary of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) program, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said.

"It is sad. I have to say that Belarus itself, which is both a donor of stability and a sponsor of peacekeeping efforts, remains under sanctions, albeit minimal ones," Makei said at a workshop on the occasion of the Eastern Partnership program's anniversary in Minsk on Tuesday.

This situation is putting the brakes on efforts to rebuild trust between Belarus and the West, "because it is obvious that all the positive changes in our relations have happened not thanks to sanctions but in spite of them," he said.

"And as a result of this not quite normal nature of our relations, the head of state thought it was premature to accept the invitation to the Eastern Partnership anniversary events in Brussels in May," he said.

Acting on Lukashenko's orders, Makei represented Belarus in Brussels, where the Eastern Partnership program marked its tenth anniversary on May 13.

Makei also represented Minsk at an Eastern Partnership summit in 2017, to which Lukashenko was invited as well.

The European Union's Eastern Partnership initiative was launched in 2009 and is aimed at bolstering relations between the EU and its six eastern neighbors: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.