Belorussian reforms so far 'cosmetic,' says Slovak foreign minister

Minsk - Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak on Monday criticised reforms enacted so far by Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko as "cosmetic."Lajcak made the remarks in the capital of Minsk after meetings with leaders of the Belarusian opposition. A thawing of relations between Lukashenko and the European Union, initiated by Brussels in May in hopes of developing democracy in Belarus, was not showing sufficient results, he said.

"The dialogue (between Lukashenko and the EU) right now is taking place on Lukashenko's terms," Lajcak said. "I support the start of irreversible reforms in Belarus."

The Slovak foreign minister met later in the day with Lukashenko and Belorussian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov.

A delegation of EU officials led by Lajcak visited Belarus on Sunday and Monday in what he called an "unprecedented information- gathering visit."

Top issues brought up by Brussels in discussions with Belorussian officials were migration, human trafficking, and economic cooperation, according to a Belapan news agency report.

Belarus was open to foreign investment and would create "the very best conditions" for Slovak business willing to develop operations in the former Soviet republic, Lukashenko said.

"We are not going to impose any conditions (on foreign business) ... but create an ideal climate," Lukashenko said, according to a Belapan report.

Belorussian industries most likely to benefit from Slovak investment include machine building, transportation, agriculture, energy and tourism, Lacjak said.



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