Problems in Belarus-EU relations solvable - Lukashenko
MINSK. Feb 18 (Interfax) - Problems in Belarus-EU relations are not chronic, they are solvable, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger at their meeting in Minsk on Monday.
"I am pleased to meet with you here today and to discuss the problems that might exist in our relations. The word "might" does not seem to be suitable. We have always had problems, and they will probably never cease. Yet the recent period showed that none of our problems is chronic, and that all problems are solvable," the Belarusian state-run media quoted Lukashenko as saying.
According to Lukashenko, much headway has been made in Belarus-EU trade and economic contacts.
"You know our goal: we are diversifying foreign trade. We would like our trade with the European Union to amount to roughly to 30-35% of the entire foreign trade (30% would fall on Russia, and 30% on the rest of the world). Thanks to this diversification, we will be certain of the production and sales of our goods," he said.
Belarus-EU relations are based on certain principles and develop in certain areas, Lukashenko said.
"The programs we adopt and the projects we implement help to develop these areas. The scope of European Union funding for these projects has considerably increased recently. Naturally, they are mutually advantageous. Let's make further progress in this area," he said.
Belarus will always be a reliable partner of the European Union, and hopes for reciprocity, Lukashenko said.
"I'd like to assure you that Belarus always maintains a balanced and accurate policy for its neighbors. We believe that neighbors are granted by God, they cannot be chosen, so a good relationship has to be built. Therefore we will always be a reliable partner to the European Union, and you don't need to worry about the Belarusian sector [an area of almost 1,500 kilometers]. Of course, we want these feelings to be mutual," Lukashenko said.
Oettinger is paying a working visit to Belarus for February 17 and 18. He is due to meet with Prime Minister Sergei Rumas, Finance Minister Maxim Yermolovich, and Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Kravchenko.
The meetings will address current matters concerning the development of a political dialogue, trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and the EU, as well as the interaction in the financial and customs fields.