Belarus - President Alexander Lukashenko meets with Stefan Fule, the EU Commissioner for the Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy

Belarus will be following its own course by implementing its sovereign policy, said President Alexander Lukashenko on July 9 during a meeting with Stefan Fule, the EU Commissioner for the Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy.

Alexander Lukashenko thanked Stefan Fule for coming to Belarus. "I think, what with all your convictions and partiality, it is very good that you will see this country with your own eyes. For me it is very important that you see with your own eyes all the processes that are now underway in Belarus," he said.

The President of Belarus said he expected this talk to be absolutely frank. "I think we have a lot to talk about. We should listen to each other and try to understand each other," he said.

According to Alexander Lukashenko, the problems in the Belarus-EU relations are well known. "And I can say it publicly that unlike many government officials, I do not entertain any hopes. I know very well: you will bide your time, I do not know why, though; you will want to see the results of the upcoming presidential elections. I am trying to understand the European Union, the Americans, and now the Russians too in this respect. On the one hand, it is the right, unbiased approach: you and others want to know who they will deal with in the future, who the President of Belarus will be," he said. "On the other hand, I would like to caution you against entertaining too high hopes and expectations: Belarus will be following its own course, whatever it may cost us. Ensuring our independence, we will be acting just like your home country (the Czech Republic) did when it embarked on the road to independence and was looking for friends who would secure its independence and would give their support. I want you to understand that we will not fall down, we will not be kowtowing to anyone, neither to you (the EU), nor to Russia, nor to America."

The Belarusian Leader urged to move away from double standards in the relations with Belarus and focus on the main matters that could bring mutual benefit. "It is our sovereignty and security, it is the independence of our Belarus," he said. "And we will do anything to remain independent. We will not be running around Europe, America or Russia, borrowing your money, playing the Russian violin or the other way round the way members of our so-called opposition are doing, who enjoy great sympathy of certain policy makers in Europe - we will not act like this."

On co-operation within the framework of the Eastern Partnership initiative, Alexander Lukashenko said, "I would like us to be treated the same way the other members of the Eastern Partnership are treated. The most important thing is that you tell us: If Belarus does not suit you in the Eastern Partnership, in co-operation with the EU, you just honestly say so, for us to entertain no unrealistic hopes and to wait for better times. It would be an honest and manly way."

If Europe wants to position itself as Europe instead of merely as Western Europe as it does now, than it will not decline to co-operate with the centre of Europe, with "its central and eastern part - Ukraine and Belarus," the President said. "Your co-operation with Russia is understandable. Your dependence is more or less the same as ours. But you are of course stronger and you can speak with Russia in a calm and appropriate manner. And as for us, we are squeezed on both sides: by you and Russia, and it is really hard on us. But I would like to emphasise it one more time: We will not kneel," said the Head of State.

Alexander Lukashenko said he hoped during this meeting the sides would manage to agree on further steps in co-operation. "One of the most important matters is now at stake, namely co-operation in Europe. Therefore your visit is very important indeed," said the President. For his part, Stefan Fule agreed there were certain problems in the Belarus-EU relations. We do have a problem, he said. He suggested looking into the problem to see the EU's and Belarus's contribution to it.

It is not in the interest of EU that Belarus be considered some sort of island, he said. "We would like to see Belarus a full-fledged member of the European community, and we would like you to use your biggest asset, not the cheap gas or oil, but your people, the residents of this beautiful country," said Stefan Fule.

Belarus is an active partner of the EU under the Eastern Partnership initiative, he added.


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