Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/belarus : Belarus Must Make Convincing and Irreversible' Reforms

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/belarus : Belarus Must Make Convincing and Irreversible' Reforms

Article excerpt

Belarus is progressing in the democratic sphere, but too slowly, in European eyes. The EU has demanded that the country makes "convincing and irreversible" reforms, which will allow the EU to unblock talks on various dossiers, such as the visa ban on top officials. The ban was put in place after the results of the country's 2006 elections were deemed suspect, but it was suspended in 2008.

Belarus also wants less stringent visa rules for the rest of its citizens to enter EU countries.

At the end of the meeting between Swedish foreign minister and Council president Carl Bildt, External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Sergei Martynov, the Belarusian foreign minister, it was clear that the road to a rapprochement between Belarus and the EU is going to prove long and difficult, as expectations on both sides are moving further away from each other. "We are aware that our expectations may seem excessive but it all depends on the reasonable nature of both sides for progress to be made," said Martynov.

Both sides underlined their mutual interest in developing their relationship, but for the EU, future progress is dependent on the improvement of the situation within Belarus. "The Belarusian authorities must do more to meet the obligations, which are a condition of a reinforced partnership," said Bildt, before adding that the talks had gone as well on the issues of human rights, political freedom, impediments to civil society organisations and political parties, as they had on the death penalty or the consequences of the crisis on the Belarusian economy. …

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