Belarus leader: relations with EU sure to normalize

Pruzhany, Belarus, October 30 (Interfax) - Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday played down a European Union decision to keep entry visa restrictions for him and other senior Belarusian officials in force and expressed confidence that his country and the EU would be able to normalize their relations.

The EU Council had extended the ban on entry to EU countries for Lukashenko and other senior figures but decided to keep it suspended.

"I don't have the slightest doubt that we will find a necessary algorithm of actions with the Europeans and will build normal relations," Lukashenko told reporters during a visit to Belarus' Brest region.

"I wouldn't say that we are under greater pressure from the West than from the East," he said. "We will build up normal relations with the Europeans. Europeans come to our country and start talking, and that means they have vested interest in it."

"It is unlikely that the Europeans see Lukashenko as an ideal partner," Lukashenko said. "But if the people elect Lukashenko, the Europeans are not stupid - they realize that there is a country in the center of Europe that they should do business with."

"The European authorities' policy of attempts to isolate Belarus hasn't done any good," the president said. "They themselves admit this."

Asked by Interfax to comment on the EU's visa restrictions for him and his senior colleagues, Lukashenko said: "I'm not worried or concerned about this at all."

"It's absolutely clear to me: it's a brainless decision that was made a while ago. One does have to drop it somehow and save face at the same time, doesn't one? It seems to me that this is, in fact, intended as a way out of the situation that has been taking shape," he said.

"Such is their decision," Lukashenko said. "We may not like it but we have to take it as it is, and there's nothing else to that."


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