EU Makes Talks On Energy Security With Belarus Contingent On Human Rights

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told a group of Belarusian journalists in Brussels on September 18 that negotiations between the EU and Belarus on energy security are only possible if the human-rights situation in the country improves, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported. She noted that EU and Belarusian experts met in June to talk about energy issues. Their second meeting was scheduled for October, but the EU decided to postpone it indefinitely, following a recent wave of arrests of youth activists in Belarus. "We feel there is a lack of political will [on the Belarusian side] to establish cooperation. We cannot work with the last dictatorial regime in Europe," Ferrero-Waldner said. Earlier this month, at a European Neighborhood Policy conference in Brussels, Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Varanetski called on the EU to cooperate in the field of energy transit. JM