EU pressure on Belarus will not work, says Lukashenko

By : dpa

Minsk - A European Union campaign to push for reforms in Belarus' government will not produce results, Belorussian President Aleksander Lukashenko said Monday. "Pressuring any sovereign nation is a foolish idea, and to pressure a country in the very heart of Europe is senseless," Lukashenko said. "Sanctions won't have any effect."

Speaking to 11 new ambassadors in the capital of the former Soviet republic, Lukashenko criticized the EU for pushing democratic reforms in Belarus.

Belarus' weak domestic economy leaves Minsk with "no other choice" but to engage western nations, but relations with the EU must develope on equal terms, he said.

"What you cannot have is the Belarus opposition speaks to Brussels, and then those become the EU official position," Lukashenko said.

The EU's Eastern Partnership programme, a diplomatic campaign begun by Brussels in May, has employed carrot-and-stick tactics with the Lukashenko regime, promising aid and investment in exchange for democratic reforms in Belarus.

Lukashenko said the EU demands were unrealistic, saying "We (Belarus) are prepared to make concessions, but we cannot contradict the basic interests of the Belorussian people."

A former head of a collective farm, Lukashenko has repeatedly stated the country needs a strong, centralised government to weather difficult financial times and to avoid economic catastrophe in other former Soviet republics.



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