Belarus can introduce democracy - Czech EU minister Vondra

Prague - There is no reason for Belarus, Ukraine and other post-Communist countries not to introduce democracy and market economy and not to join European structures, Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra told CTK today.

However, one cannot expect any early admission of these countries in the EU, Vondra said at the conference on democracy and European integration from the 1989 Iron Curtain fall to 2004 EU enlargement.

"There is no reason for Belarussian, Ukrainians and others not to achieve what we have achieved in the past 20 years," Vondra said about the EU Eastern Partnership project that will be launched at a summit in Prague next week.

Apart from Belarus, the project reckons with the involvement of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In exchange for reforms, the EU offers the countries a chance to come closer to the EU, which plans to invest some 600 million euros in the project until 2013.

Vondra said it was premature to speak about their EU membership.

"At present, such a big enlargement is not possible because neither them nor the EU are prepared," Vondra said.

However, the project is necessary as the EU should establish closer contacts with a region with which it has not had close relations, Vondra said.

If Eastern Partnership were not established, it could be seen as EU's disinterest in the region, Vondra said.

"This would be an invitation for others to make order. I do not think it is in their or our interest," Vondra said.



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