Transcript of the Press Conference by Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov following the meeting of the EU Troika and Belarus, 28 July 2009 (Brussels)
Sergei Martynov: We believe we are doing important work together with the European Union on improving and ameliorating our relationship. A lot has been done already since last October when the first meeting of Troika took place. Since then, Belarus became party to the Eastern Partnership arrangement and we work together with our European colleagues through that arrangement and different platforms. And we see a lot of practical perspective in this particular arrangement. We also work to improve the bilateral plane of our relationship. All of these issues have been discussed at the meeting of the Troika with Belarus. We have certain mutual expectation of more pace on each side in meeting the expectation of the other side. And we discussed how that could be achieved. We believe that both Belarus and the European Union have an important stake in our relationship because of the geographic and economic and human potential of Belarus. And the major emphasis for me after this Troika was that both sides understand and wish, understand the need to work together and wish to work together even in a tighter fashion with more result-oriented action. Thank you.
BBC World Service: Mr Martynov, have you got any plans to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
Sergei Martynov: On your question on South Ossetia and Abkhazia. As you are perfectly aware, this is a complex issue for everybody involved and not involved there. We continue to look at it in a very serious manner. No final decisions have been taken this way or the other way.
Czech Radio: Could you tell us in the context of the foreign policy of your country to what extent this [the Eastern Partnership] is a priority for Belarus?
Sergei Martynov: On your question about how much of a priority the Eastern Partnership is for Belarus the answer is in the affirmative. This is a priority, this is a natural priority because, as you would know, two major partners that Belarus has is Russia and the European Union. The Eastern Partnership is so far the major part of our relationship with the European Union. So we are participating actively in all the platforms which took place by the way in Prague in June. I believe we have created a structural effort within our Government to follow up all the necessary points. We have offered a number of specific projects to our neighbors and also to the European Commission which could be the contents, the project contents of the European Partnership eventually. We would continue to work together with our partners and colleagues. Thank you.
Swedish News Agency: Do you think you can meet the expectations concerning reforms on human rights, freedom of expression and so on that Mr Bildt and Ms Ferrero-Waldner have spoken about until November so that new steps could be taken in the relations between Belarus and the European Union?
Sergei Martynov: The relationships between Belarus and the European Union are a two-way road. And this has been discussed from the outset and agreed from the outset. It’s not that Belarus only proceeds in one particular direction. We reasonably expect that we will be in a position to provide the necessary grants for the European Union to take the decisions which are important. We also have our own expectations on the part of the European Union. Expectations of both sides may be pretty high but it will depend then on us, politicians and Ministers, to be reasonable enough to proceed in progress rather than in regress. Thank you.
German Radio: Minister Martynov, may be, you could be more precise on your expectations toward the European Union? May be two examples like what’s your expectation towards the visa regime and what’s your expectation towards economical support?
Sergei Martynov: Well, if we are talking about two expectations, even though the list is longer than that. Visa facilitation is an obvious priority. Our citizens and residents of Belarus cannot accept the fact that they have to pay at least twice as much as our neighbours pay for the visas and also to have an extremely complex and lengthy procedure of having visas to the Schenghen zone. This is something which stands in the way of free travel in Europe and has to be remedied. The other expectation could be I believe displayed to you by the fact that, as I mentioned in the Troika today, Belarus has a dubious advantage of being on the same plane with countries like the United States, Japan and Australia in having just the most favoured nation trade regime with the European Union. We would like to have a different regime. Thank you.