Belarus president hits out at EU 'cat and mouse game'

MOSCOU -Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko hit out at the European Union on Wednesday, attacking the bloc's criticism at the progress of the country's democratic reforms.

The EU last month suspended sanction against Belarus on the condition it improves democracy, human rights and rule of law.

"I said to the Europeans, if you plan on continuing this policy, this game of cat and mouse with us, say so," Lukashenko said.

"If you don't want to work with us and respect our conditions, say so as well," he added.

The Belarussian president, however, told reporters that it would be in the country's economic interest to forge closer ties with Brussels.

"If we are clearing the way towards Europe, it is not so that I can go to Austria on my skiing holidays. I can ski just as well in Kazakhstan," Lukashenko told reporters.

"We are clearing the way in that direction it is because 30 percent of our exports are sold to Russia and 44 percent to Europe. That tells you everything," he added.

The EU launched the Eastern Partnership at a summit in Prague in May to "accelerate political association and further economic integration" between its 27 member states and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Lukashenko -- once dubbed Europe's last dictator -- has ruled the ex-Soviet republic of 10 million people since 1994 but has now made attempts at greater openness. He has hired a Western PR firm to improve his country's image and began cautious economic reforms.



Partners: Social Network