Aleksandr Lukashenko has criticized the European Union's Eastern Partnership program targeting Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, describing it as ill considered, BelaPAN reported.
In an interview run by Lithuania's Russian-language newspaper Litvosky Kuryer, the Belarusian leader said that "alarming symptoms are also presenting themselves."
"They earlier demanded certain concessions in various areas from us, while now they are attempting to treat us unequally," Mr. Lukashenko said. "As part of the formation of a parliamentary assembly, EURONEST, they propose that oppositionists should be included, along with lawmakers (in the Belarusian delegation). Well, we don`t mind. But in this case, oppositionists should also be present in (the delegations of) Ukraine and Georgia and Armenia and Moldova and other members of the Eastern Partnership. But why should the opposition be present there? It is a purely parliamentary institution. Apparently, they once again attempt to put pressure on us and offer us conditions that are different from those for other members of the Eastern Partnership. We have flatly rejected the demand, with all members of the Eastern Partnership saying unanimously that it is about discrediting Belarus."
Mr. Lukashenko said that "even" Georgia had taken sides with Minsk, which insists that the Belarusian delegation to the EU-Neighborhood East Parliamentary Assembly should be entirely composed of members of the Belarusian parliament.
At the same time, he said that he was "cool" about the attempts to put pressure on Minsk. "We look at this project pragmatically," he said. "If it is of benefit to Belarus and if it is of benefit to all members of the Eastern Partnership - why not, let's cooperate."
Mr. Lukashenko said that he so far did not see any tangible results.
The European Union now seems to be busy with its own problems and does not have time to deal with the Partnership, he said.