Updated at 18:53,10-09-2021

Lukashenka: Belarus ready to take any steps to normalize ties with EU

Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Belarus is ready to take any steps to normalize its relations with the European Union, but the ball is in the 28-nation bloc's court, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said while accepting the credentials of new foreign ambassadors in Minsk on December 16, BelaPAN said.

Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus and the EU would have to improve their relations because of the country's proximity to the bloc. "We will have to live together as neighbors," the government's news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.

Mr. Lukashenka said that European businesses were interested to expand ties with Belarus. "I don't want to say that the ball is in your court, this is a journalistic cliche. But it is indeed in your court," he noted.

Minsk is frankly interested in the development of neighborly relations with the EU, Mr. Lukashenka said. "This is due not only to our geographical, historical and cultural proximity, but also to the need to adopt joint measures of response to regional challenges and threats," he added.

Mr. Lukashenka warned that fruitful joint work in the sphere would be possible only on the basis of equal rights and mutual respect. "We have too many external threats. Let's think together how we could fight them instead of leering at each other. That does not suit your or our interests," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus had managed to achieve much progress in relations with the EU in general and its member states, such as France, the Netherlands, Spain and Slovenia, thanks to a "pragmatic" and "positive result-oriented" approach.