Brussels, 28 January 2008
Experts from the European Commission will meet their Belarusian counterparts on 28-30 January in Minsk to discuss technical matters relating to the energy and transport situation in the EU and Belarus. A technical meeting between environment experts will take place on 7 February in Brussels.
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said: “The holding of technical meetings between experts of both sides could lay the ground for substantial cooperation in the framework of a full partnership, provided that Belarus takes steps toward democratisation. A full partnership would allow us to significantly increase assistance to Belarus and to boost, among others, economic and environmental development which would improve Belarusians' quality of life.”
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner added: "We are satisfied with the early release of three political prisoners in the past days. And we hope that the other political prisoners will be released soon as well."
To make the people of Belarus more aware of the advantages of EU assistance and the benefits of a closer relationship, the European Commission has issued a "non-paper" in November 2006 with the title: ‘What the European Union could bring to Belarus [ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ][Image][32 KB] ’.
Currently, EU assistance to Belarus is concentrated in a limited number of areas, including civil society and the social domain. Higher education is a special priority for assistance, and the Commission also provides support to the country’s independent media.