Foreign ministers of Belarus, Lithuania hold talks in Minsk

Belarus and Lithuania should expand their cooperation, especially in trade, investment and transportation, despite some differences in the two countries` approaches...

Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey and his Lithuanian counterpart, Linas Linkevicius, held talks in Minsk on Friday.

Belarus and Lithuania should expand their cooperation, especially in trade, investment and transportation, despite some differences in the two countries` approaches and the European Union’s "politically motivated restrictions" against Belarus, Mr. Makey said at the meeting, according to the press office of the Belarusian foreign ministry.

Messrs. Makey and Linkevicius discussed in detail a broad range of issues concerning Belarusian-Lithuanian relations, including preparations for the 10th Belarusian-Lithuanian Economic Forum to be held in Mahilyow this fall, the press office said.

According to the press office, Messrs. Makey and Linkevicius discussed possible measures to make fuller use of the two countries` transport potential and their transport systems.

They also discussed in detail specific measures to improve border infrastructure at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border and steps to speed up the visa issuance process, the press office said.

"In the context of the relationship between Belarus and the EU, the Belarusian side noted that it viewed the EU`s Eastern Partnership as an important form of dialogue and cooperation with the EU," the press office said. "At the same time, given the developments in the region and the different integration priorities of the partner states, it was noted that the program [Eastern Partnership] needs reshaping to prevent any discriminatory approach to participants. It was also noted that it was necessary to increase the real benefit of the Eastern Partnership for people."

Messrs. Makey and Linkevicius also touched on major international subjects, including regional security, the press office said.

On the same day Mr. Linkevicius met with Belarusian opposition and civil society activists and relatives of political prisoners. In particular, the meeting was attended by Anatol Lyabedzka, leader of the United Civic Party; Ales Byalyatski, leader of the Vyasna Human Rights Center; Mr. Byalyatski`s wife Natallya Pinchuk; former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin; Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, chairperson of the “Tell the Truth!” movement; Stanislaw Shushkevich, Belarus’ formal head of state between 1991 and 1994; Pavel Sevyarynets, co-chairperson of Belarusian Christian Democracy; veteran opposition politician Vintsuk Vyachorka; Aleh Hulak, chairperson of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee; Alyaksey Yanukevich, chairperson of the Belarusian Popular Front; Iryna Veshtard, chairperson of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party; Alyaksandr Arastovich, of the Narodnaya Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party; Maryna Lobaw, the mother of imprisoned young opposition activist Eduard Lobaw: and Maryna Adamovich, the wife of imprisoned former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich.

As Mr. Lyabedzka said in a message posted on his Facebook page shortly before the meeting, participants were expected to discuss the issue of political prisoners, the possibility of free and fair elections in accordance with OSCE standards, a modernization plan for Belarus, and possible new opportunities for Belarusians, including steps to ease visa procedures for Belarusian citizens and educational programs.

On July 24, Mr. Linkevicius met with Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich.

According to the press office of the Belarusian foreign ministry, the meeting focused on trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Lithuania and the implementation of joint investment projects.