Belarusian foreign minister describes EU as 'partner number 2' for Belarus
Minsk seeks both to develop economic ties with the European Union and strengthen its relationship with Russia, Belarusian Foreign minister Vladimir Makei told journalists following a summit of the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative.
"We are not setting ourselves the goal to hurry to the European Union - and nobody demands that we do, let's put it this way. We are a member of the Eurasian Economic Union now, and we believe we should develop this Eurasian Economic Union. We already feel some benefit from our participation, and we hope this trend will continue," Makei said.
"But it should be understood that diversification, of which the president of Belarus has also said numerous times, is very important to us in the current situation. This goal means that we should avoid dependence on just one source and one track," he said.
"Why do I say so? Because the European Union for us is a very important trade and economic partner. This is partner number two after the Eurasian Economic Union and after Russia," he said.
This does not mean that Belarus is going to break "close and allied ties with Russia and other countries that were formerly Soviet republics," Makei said.
"Absolutely not. On the contrary, we believe these ties should be strengthened. But at the same time we should develop cooperation with the European Union and more distant countries to diversify our trade and economic relations," he said.
"Therefore, our main priority, both in the context of our participation in the Eastern Partnership and in the context of normalization of our relations with the European Union, is, above all, to develop trade and economic cooperation. This should help strengthen our economy. This should also lead to strengthening our political independence and sovereignty," he said.
The Eastern Partnership summit was held in Brussels on November 24.