MINSK, 17 November (BelTA) - Belarus downgrades its participation in the Eastern Partnership initiative to an expert level due to a politicized approach of partners, Belarus' Ministers of Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told the media after the meeting with the head of state on foreign policy, BelTA has learned.
The minister noted with regret that some countries, including the European Union, imposed sanctions against Belarus. “Of course, we could not leave this thing unanswered. We also expanded the relevant sanctions lists by including relevant persons from all EU countries. We proposed to suspend the work of the Belarus-EU coordination group which discussed various issues of our interaction,” the minister said.
Among the retaliatory measures, he also called the downgrading of Belarus' representation in the Eastern Partnership. "The idea of lowering the level of our representation in the Eastern Partnership was proposed at the meetings and was supported by its participants. We see that there are attempts to politicize a number of infrastructure and interregional projects within the framework of this initiative. Therefore, it was decided to reduce the level of Belarus' participation in this initiative to an expert one," the minister said.
This means, he said, that Belarus will be represented by experts, not ministers at the Eastern Partnership events. In case of a summit, issues related to Belarus are likely to be discussed at the level of the Permanent Representative of Belarus to the European Union.
“In principle, we have always advocated removing the sanctions rhetoric from our agenda. Unfortunately, the actions of our partners leave us nothing else but to respond adequately to these negative steps towards Belarus. I would like to reiterate that it is not us who initiated these steps. We are only producing an adequately response to those negative statements and steps of our Western partners related to the interference with the internal affairs of Belarus,” the minister said.