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Brussels, 26 January 2009

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to attend Belarus Troika in Brussels

European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will participate in the EU-Belarus Foreign Ministers' Troika meeting in Brussels on 27 January. This is the second ministerial Troika with Belarus following the Council's decision to suspend the visa ban against Belarusian officials for the period of 6 months. From the Belarusian side Foreign Minister Martynov will take part in the meeting, which will touch upon the state of play of EU-Belarus relations, internal developments in the country, regional matters, the economic situation and energy issues.

Before the meeting, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: “This second Troika with Belarus is a welcome opportunity to assess the country's progress towards democracy, respect for human rights and the rule on law in the run up to April, when we will review the suspension of EU restrictive measures. We will continue to monitor the situation closely".

She added: "It remains my sincere wish to welcome Belarus as a full partner in our European Neighbourhood Policy and also in our future Eastern Partnership, but this will depend on the country's own choices and actions. We recognise that some positive steps have already been taken by Belarus, and in response, the Commission has entered into an intensified dialogue with Belarus on energy, environment, customs, transport and food safety. I will be calling on my Belarusian counterpart to take further steps in the right direction so that we can develop our relationship".

Following the Council's decision of October 13th to suspend the visa ban against certain Belarusian officials for a period of 6 months, the first Ministerial Troika with Belarus took place on October 13th in the margins of the GAERC.

The level of Belarus’ participation in the Eastern Partnership will depend on the overall development of EU-Belarus relations. Depending on its own choices and decisions, Belarus will be able to benefit from the Eastern Partnership to intensify bilateral relations with the EU. This will be subject to progress towards democratisation and other reforms. The Eastern Partnership multilateral framework would also provide Belarus with an opportunity to deepen its relations with partners in the region.

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