Lukashenko pushes for borderless Europe at Lithuania visit

VILNIUS, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday urged all members of the European Union to work towards creating "a Europe without borders."

Lukashenko arrived in Vilnius for the first time for 12 years to meet with his Lithuanian counterpart, Dalia Grybauskaite, and attend the opening of a bilateral economic forum on new opportunities for cooperation between the two ex-Soviet states, as well as visit the Belarus Expo 2009.

"We want to be a bridge between the East and West," Lukashenko was quoted by the Earth Times online edition as saying at the business forum.

He also warned that Minsk would not be forced into choosing between relations with either the EU or Russia.

"I want the Europeans to understand we cannot be pushed about or made to do anything we don't want to," he said.

An improvised symbol of the Belarusian opposition comprising a three-by-seven meter white-red-white flag made of paper planes was displayed opposite the parliament building on the bank of the Neris River, and a poster depicting the image of a moustached head and an inscription reading "No country for moustaches" was also put up by unknown campaigners before Lukashenko's arrival.

Belarus and the European Union have recently moved to rebuild ties. The EU lifted a travel ban on Lukashenko and invited Belarus to attend an Eastern Partnership summit earlier this year along with five other ex-Soviet states, offering closer economic and political ties in exchange for commitment to democracy.

The Belarusian and Lithuanian foreign ministers, Sergei Martynov and Vygaudas Usackas, respectively, met in Belarus in August.



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