Milinkevich meets with French President Sarkozy

Belarusian opposition politician Alyaksandr Milinkevich was received by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on May 9, BelaPAN reports.

The meeting focused on France’s policy toward Belarus and efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country, the former presidential candidate’s press office said.

“France is a state that views human rights and freedoms not just as words but as values. We need support for the process of reforms very much,” Mr. Milinkevich was quoted as saying.

The politician noted that France, which takes over the European Union’s presidency on July 1, should have a specific plan of actions with regard to Belarus.

He said that such a plan should be based on the European Union’s 12 conditions for closer cooperation with Belarus. “It is very important to conduct a policy to restore European values in Belarus. Europe’s attention is vitally important for us,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr. Milinkevich said that the European Union should demand the release of all political prisoners, support independent media outlets and civil society in Belarus.

Mr. Sarkozy, for his part, asked the Belarusian politician to tell him about public sentiments in the country, its living standards and relations with Russia. “You may count on France and its president,” he was quoted as telling Mr. Milinkevich at the end of the meeting.

While in France, Mr. Milinkevich also met with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, gave newspaper interviews and appeared on television.