Belarus boycotts EU summit pushing for reforms
Belarus on Friday boycotted a Warsaw summit at which EU leaders were urging democratic reforms, protesting the bloc's pointed decision not to invite the country's autocratic leader, AP reported.
The summit was discussing the Eastern Partnership, an initiative launched by Sweden and Poland in 2009 to deepen the EU's ties with Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan and to spur them into embracing the EU's political and economic standards.
The Belarusian Embassy in Poland said the failure to invite Lukashenko was a case of "unprecedented discrimination" against Belarus and boycotted the meeting.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk noted the absence of the delegation from Belarus as he opened discussions Friday, the second day of the two-day summit. He expressed hope Minsk would one day join "the family of European states."
Polish news agency PAP reported Friday that Tusk had proposed a modernization fund to aid Belarus, which is going through a severe financial crisis. The money could be made available through European banks, on condition that Belarus holds free parliamentary elections, opens talks with the opposition and releases all political prisoners. There is no pressure for Lukashenko to step down.