24 January 2018, Wednesday, 0:57

Aliaksandr Milinkevich: Restoring relations with the EU is vital for Belarus


The leader of the movement For Freedom calls Uladzimir Makei's visit to Brussels “the first step”.

“Restoring political, diplomatic and economic relations with the EU is vital for Belarus. Whether the country will be independent or not, whether it will lose sovereignty or not depends on this step. That's why I think that diplomatic channels of communication must exist.

After the events on December 19, 2010, Makei was on the travel ban list. But the West needs someone to work out a road map for cooperation. I am sure these are the first steps that will create preconditions for a dialogue. This is not a dialogue. It's only a preparation for the dialogue. These contacts are very important,” Aliaksandr Milinkevich said in an interview with Belorusski Partizan.

The politician says that Europe will never agree to start a dialogue if political prisoners are not released.

“This is undoubtedly the number one question for us. I think Europe can take this moral hurdle,” the leader of the For Freedom movement said.

Uladzimir Makei takes part in the meeting of Eastern Partnership foreign ministers today.

The meeting begins at 17:00 local time (18:00 Minsk time) in Brussels following the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

It is Makei's first trip to Europe after the 2010 presidential election. In January 2011, he, like other Belarusian top officials, was put on the EU blacklist as a person involved in the brutal suppression of post-election protests on December 19 and repression against opposition activists. Makei was then the head of Lukashenka's administration.

On June 24, 2013, the EU Foreign Affairs Council took a decision at a meeting in Luxembourg to suspend a visa ban on Uladzimir Makei.