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How can Belarus influence CEI development?

Build bridges instead of iron curtains: this was the urge of the Belarus President as he met with the foreign ministers of the Central European Initiative member countries.

The conversation turned out to be thorough and frank. Among the topics discussed were efforts to combat terrorism, migration, the expansion of transport infrastructure, the acceleration of trade flows and the development of logistics services.

Yevgeny Gorin:
The Central European Initiative now includes 18 countries. The organization's goal is to develop cooperation in the region in a number of areas ranging from economy and security to energy.

The initiatives put forward by Belarus can give a new impetus to the building of ties between East and West.

For Belarus, the remaining 17 states of the CEI make up about 60% of export to the EU. Economically, this is a strategic direction for Belarusian enterprises. Politically it is the most important for both sides.

The problems faced by the European Union need regional support.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
At this meeting, I would like to listen to all your proposals, remarks and claims that you have and also warnings. Let's talk frankly, and I very much hope for this frankness. I am a concrete and open person and I love when I speak directly about problems. Sometimes it's not diplomatic, but humanly, and this is the main thing that I expect from this meeting.

Miroslav Lajčák, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic:
I support your proposal to discuss the challenges. There are a lot of them. Alone, we cannot cope with them. Negotiations in Minsk inspire us to build unifying bridges. We intend to strengthen ties with Belarus. Your chairmanship is aimed at improving the situation in the region. The format of the organization is unique in building regional cooperation in the EU.

The chairmanship of Belarus in the Central European Initiative is quite timely. In the Palace of Independence the meeting participants talked a lot about the contemporary challenges facing Europe: from terrorism to migration problems.

Against this background, Belarus is seen as a true donor of regional security.

This is the characteristic that makes it possible to claim the role of a bridge in the complicated relations between East and West. Here the positions of both sides converge.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Hungary:
We need good relations between the West and the East.

We regard the Central European initiative as a bridge between them.

In this light, the chairmanship of Belarus is very symbolic. Your country is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, on the one hand, and, on the other, it is developing cooperation with Europe. I would like to pay special attention to this.

The European Union has lost a lot in its competitiveness lately. We support the strengthening of ties between Belarus and the EU.

The initiatives of Belarus are a package of proposals for strengthening the "eastern dimension" of the Central European Initiative. These are steps to simplify trade with Europe, move to common standards, and develop transport and logistics. In other words this means removal of barriers and restrictions.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
It is equally important for Belarus to develop cooperation with the East and West, without making an artificial choices between them. The existing realities are the following: states that are geographically located between Europe and Asia need to take on more responsibility in ensuring regional stability.

Especially, at times it costs nothing materially. It depends on us whether our countries will become a dividing line between the world centers or their link. Now we must build not the iron curtains, but together build bridges between the various integration structures on the continent. Only through equal dialogue and full-fledged economic cooperation can a truly great Europe be created, guaranteeing the descendants peace, security and prosperity.

Margot Klestil-Löffler, Alternate Secretary General of the Central European Initiative:
To take over the presidency of the CEI was an extremely wise political and strategic decision of the Belarusian leadership.

The efforts made by the country give new dimensions to the association, balance the organization's activities in European states and the Eurasian dimension.

Active chairmanship in the organization and the desire of Belarus to give new breath to the Central European Initiative will allow Minsk to implement new projects with the EU. It is no coincidence that the delegation consists of the Secretary General of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Belarus' ties with particular countries and organizations are becoming closer. For example,

Austrian business invested about 6 billion euros in Belarus during the five-year period.

Yauheni Preiherman, political analyst:
Such large-scale events taking place in Minsk always have a very large contribution to our image. Remember the consequences of the Minsk negotiating platform [on Ukraine crisis - note by CTV.by]. The word Minsk sounds at almost all the leading political forums because there are Minsk agreements.

Someone criticizes them, some do not. But for us it is important in terms of the fact that there is a certain geographical part in the center of Europe, which also has an opinion on what is happening. It is desirable that this opinion is heard, listened to, because otherwise not only Belarus but also its neighbors will experience problems.

Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
We discussed with our colleagues the possibility and prospects for facilitating the visa regime in the context of our EU relations. We just need to continue the dialogue, we are interested in reaching an agreement on all the topics outlined.

I see interest on the part of our European partners.

Today is a landmark day not only for the development of the Belarusian-European partnership.

76 years ago on June 22, Belarus was attacked by the Nazis, which marked the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), which is part of WWII.

Millions of Europeans died as well as every third Belarusian.

Representatives of the European Union laid flowers on the Victory Square in honor of the fallen.

How can Belarus influence CEI development?