MINSK, 3 April (BelTA) - New forms of cooperation between the Central European Initiative (CEI) and Belarus and the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative were discussed in a meeting between Irina Starovoitova, the head of the National Assembly's delegation in the CEI parliamentary dimension, member of the standing commission on education, science, culture and social development of the Council of the Republic, and CEI Secretary General Roberto Antonione in Minsk on 3 April BelTA has learned.
According to the CEI secretary general, the CEI is working on the ideas “to launch new forms of cooperation with Belarus in a broader format, first of all in the Eastern Partnership format. The CEI would like to know Belarus' position and hear the opinion on ways to achieve this,” he added.
The meeting discussed the role of the CEI parliamentary dimension. According to Irina Starovoitova, parliaments should play a special role in promoting the CEI, strengthening the European integration, facilitating regional dialogue. “By approximating the legislations and implementing best practices, we create more favorable business climate in the countries, improve relations between companies and governments, empower civil society,” she said. The Belarusian senator believes that the CEI member states should jointly adopt consolidated decisions on most important issues: “by supporting each other, we can defend common interests and interests of each of the CEI countries.”
Irina Starovoitova assured that the Belarusian MPs are ready to promote different forms of interaction: to develop bilateral cooperation, support projects that include country initiatives. Being a member of the Council of the Republic, the chamber of territorial representation, the senator drew attention to the prospects of enhancing interregional collaboration. “The regional potential is still hugely untapped,” the senator said. The CEI secretary general supported this view and stressed that regional cooperation is the best tool for promoting contacts. “We made a good use of it in the past and can make an even better use of it in the future,” he said.
Belarus presided in the CEI in 2017. It was a unique opportunity for the country to deepen its involvement in the European integration processes. The Belarusian parliament is interested in helping the European countries, that were long biased towards Belarus, to see the country as a promising and reliable partner. According to Roberto Antonione, the CEI hailed Belarus' presidency in the organization. He said that it was a very positive experience that helped make great progress. The CEI secretary general is convinced that it is important to show the European countries the real situation in Belarus “as there was some misunderstanding in the past.”
The CEI head invited Belarus to attend the CEI Parliamentary Committee meeting in Trieste in late May 2019. Irina Starovoitova, for her part, expressed the hope that the secretary general's current visit would promote constructive and pragmatic cooperation between the Belarusian parliament with the CEI and its parliamentary dimension
CEI is an intergovernmental association established in 1989 to develop regional cooperation. Currently, CEI includes 18 member states. Belarus joined the initiative in 1996. Belarus views the organization as an effective tool for expanding and strengthening regional cooperation through the implementation of specific joint projects in topical areas of activity, including efficient energy, sustainable development, ecology, science and technology.