Invitation to Lukashenko for Prague EU summit not yet decided

Brussels - It has not yet been decided whether Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko will be invited to the Prague EU summit dealing with the Eastern Partnership programme, said Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who headed a meeting of EU finance ministers today.

Schwarzenberg said it depended on how Belarus will act.

His Finnish and Swedish colleagues, Alexander Stubb and Carl Bildt confirmed that it was too early to make the decision concerning the Prague summit to be held on May 7.

The EU foreign ministers agreed to suspend the ban on EU travel for most Belarussian top representatives for further six months until autumn.

Stubb said the sanction policy implemented in the past 12 years led nearly nowhere.

The sanctions were imposed on Belarus over human rights violation in the country. In October 2008, the EU agreed to suspend the sanctions for the first time.

The travel bans were lifted for 36 of 41 Belarussian top officials, except for the head of the Belarussian election commission and four people connected with the disappearance of four Belarussian opposition politicians in 1999-2000.

The decision made by EU ministers today is important in connection to the Eastern Partnership, which is a priority of the six-month EU presidency of the Czech Republic that has lasted since January.

The programme is to create space for closer cooperation with former Soviet countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and possibly Belarus.

Schwarzenberg said earlier it would strongly complicate Belarus's inclusion in the Eastern Partnership if Belarus recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two Georgian breakaway provinces.



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