EU ready to offer assistance to Belarus

The European Union (EU) is considering macroeconomic and financial support for Belarus if the latter meets certain conditions, said an EU official on Tuesday.

"We stand ready to support and re-engage with Belarus if indeed Belarus shows to be very serious in pursuing the moves toward democracy and fundamental freedoms," said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations and European neighborhood policy.

"We are currently therefore considering macrofinancial assistance and the possibility for Belarus to receive EIB (European Investment Bank) and EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) loans in the future," she told reporters after a meeting between EU officials and Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov.

However, she said it is too early to say how much money Belarus might receive as Minsk has to meet certain conditions. "The conditionality is, so to say, the IMF (International Monetary Fund)conditions."

The IMF approved a 2.5 billion U.S. dollar emergency loan package for Belarus in December 2008 to help Minsk tide over the economic crisis. The IMF agreed to increase financing support by 1billion dollars last month.

Ferrero-Waldner said the EU is ready to double its aid to Belarus in 2010, particularly in order to support Belarus' food safety and quality regimes so that the country could export to the EU.

Brussels has already doubled its aid for 2009 to Belarus from 5to 10 million euros (about 7.1 to 14.2 million U.S. dollars), she said.

The EU and Belarus could also work on energy cooperation in the future, she said. Belarus is a transit country for EU's energy imports from Russia.

The EU had imposed sanctions on Belarus to protest human rights abuses. Its travel ban on Belarusian leaders, including on President Alexander Lukashenko, has been suspended to allow rapprochement.



Partners: Social Network