President Alexander Lukashenko meets with European Commissioner Johannes Khan

30 January 2018

By Andrei Krivosheev: Belarus stands for a strong European Union as one of the poles of the new multipolar world and one of the pillars of the Belarusian foreign policy and economy. This was stated today at the meeting of President Alexander Lukashenko with Johannes Khan, the European Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and negotiations on the EU expansion.

Recently, the Minsk-Brussels dialogue has been intensively developing, and new interests have emerged. Now, the main thing to decide is the direction in which the parties will move on. Belarus sees itself not just as a neighbour, but as a significant partner in European affairs. In particular, it has to do with matters of security, overcoming the recession, and combating cross-border crime and illegal migration.

Noticeable progress can be observed in mutual trade as well. The European Union is the second most important market for Belarusian exports. Belarus actively participates in all integration projects from the Eastern Partnership to the OSCE. And here, in the opinion of the official Minsk, the main formula for success is fewer conflicts – more real challenges.

This is Johannes Khan’s second visit to Belarus, so the European Commissioner knows the position of Belarus in detail and is ready to talk about prospects. The President of Belarus is also prepared for this.

Belarus does not hide its pragmatic interests in economy. This has to do with the lifting of sanctions and quotas on textiles, as well as a new strategy of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Now, not only private but also state modernization projects are being financed by the EBRD. Also, work is under way with the European Investment Bank, technical assistance, and direct growth of trade. This is definitely a good result, given that the basic agreement between Belarus and the EU has not been updated so far.

Supporting each other, Belarus and the European Union will become stronger. In particular, Belarus has already made a serious contribution to the solution of the migration problem in the EU.

Another important issue on the agenda is the liberalization of the visa regime and readmission. At the meeting with the European Commissioner, the head of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry underlined that there are basically no uncoordinated issues left. Besides, Belarus has a good visa history. The country is the leader among the top countries in terms of the number of Schengen visas issued per capita, and the Belarusians themselves have already proven they are law-abiding guests of the EU.

Among other things, together with the Prime Minister of Belarus, Johannes Khan discussed issues of the Belarus-EU relations in terms of the economy. The top priority here is bringing the Eurasian and European integration processes closer together. Belarus serves a natural bridge here. Also, there is necessity to sign a fundamental treaty that will promote both business and diplomacy.

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