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The  Commission  has   today  approved  the  proposal  for  a  Council  and
Commission Decision -  in which each institution is responsible for matters
within its  jurisdiction  -  on  the  conclusion  of  the  Partnership  and
Cooperation Agreement  between the  European Communities  and their  Member
States, of the one part, and the Republic of Belarus, of the other part.

Following the  adoption by  the  Council on  5 October 1992 of  negotiating
directives, talks with  Belarus took place in  1993 and 1994.   After three
negotiating sessions the agreement was initialled on 22 December 1994.  

It is  a "mixed" agreement  (i.e. combining matters  coming under Community
jurisdiction  and matters coming under  national jurisdiction)  and will be
concluded for an initial period of ten years.

The  agreeement  establishes  a  political   dialogue  and  also  comprises
provisions on trade,  conditions relating to employment,  the establishment
and activity  of companies,  cross-border services,  payments and  capital,
competition,  protection   of  intellectual,   industrial  and   commercial
property and legislative, economic, cultural and financial cooperation.

The  agreement includes a human  rights conditionality  clause enabling the
agreement to be suspended, even unilaterally, in the  event of violation of
essential  components of  the agreement,  i.e.  those upholding  democratic
principles and human rights and the principles of a market economy.

The agreement creates  an institutional structure comprising  a Cooperation
Council,   a  Cooperation   Committee  and   a  Parliamentary   Cooperation
Committee.

The agreement  holds out  the prospect  of the  future creation  of a  free
trade zone.  In 1998, the situation will be evaluated to determine  whether
negotiations for such a zone can get under way.

Once these procedures  on the conclusion  of the  agreement are  finalized,
the agreement could be  signed and ratified by the  parties (Member States,
European Communities and Belarus) and then enter into force.

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