Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2015-09-09-Speech-3-722-000"

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"This year I visited Minsk twice, and that is why I welcome with particular feeling the release of political prisoners in Belarus, as well as Belarus’s involvement in attempts to stop Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine. These steps, along with a fair campaign and fair elections, should lead to an upgrade of the dialogue between the EU and Belarus. If the OSCE observers give a positive assessment of the Presidential elections, the EU should review its sanctions. I am not so naive as to believe that President Lukashenko has been taking these steps out of a sudden change of heart. It is entirely possible that it is just a cold, political calculation. It is a fact that Belarus continues to depend economically on Russia’s subsidies, President Lukashenko is willing to enhance military cooperation with Russia, possibly for the sake of avoiding any unpleasant hybrid surprises for Belarus. But we should also listen to those pro-European actors in Belarusian society who encourage the European institutions to give positive feedback to the recent developments in Belarus and who say that the EU should interact more with Belarusian society at large through education, technical cooperation exchanges and so on, rather than just hoping that Lukashenko will fall. At the same time, the EU should continue its policy of critical engagement, and we all have to make it clear to the Belarusian authorities that the normalisation of relations with Europe depends on the advancement of democracy in Belarus."@lv2

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