Alexandr Vondra: “Situation in Belarus hasn’t considerably changed”

The Czech Republic, holding the EU presidency, says the decision on inviting Alyaksandr Lukashenka to the Eastern Partnership summit will be made at the very last moment.

On April 6, Czech deputy prime minister for European affairs Alexandr Vondra said “it is important to motivate Minsk to positive steps,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“This European policy has so far produced partial results. However, we are far from saying that the situation has considerably improved,” the Czech official said.

Alexandr Vondra stressed that none of the six countries is yet prepared for EU membership and that the program should “bridge the period” till membership begins.

The Czech Republic also confirmed the summit would be held in Prague on May 7. Earlier it was said that the summit might have been held in Brussels. The Eastern Partnership program is one of the primary aims of the Czech presidency, expiring on June 30.

Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine are offered closer political ties and economic integration in the frames of the new project. It doesn’t suppose membership in the European Union but offers participation in bilateral and multilateral projects.

The EU foreign ministers confirmed in March a decision on nine-month visa ban reprieve for Belarusian high ranking officials, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who were banned to entry Europe.

In October 2008, the EU Council of Ministers decided to suspend visa bans for Belarusian officials, imposed in 2006 in response to Belarus’s actions against the opposition. The sanctions affected Lukashenka and 41 Belarusian officials.

Sanctions against the officials, suspected by the international community of killings of opposition leaders and a journalist, namely former interior minister Uladzimir Navumau, former secretary of the Security Council Viktar Sheiman, commander of special task squad of the internal troops Dzmitry Paulichenka, and former interior minister Yury Sivakou still remain in force. Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the Central Election Commission, is also banned to entry the EU for rigging the election results in Belarus.