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Working visit of Minister Jean Asselborn to Minsk on 14 September 2016
Following an invitation by Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn paid a working visit to Minsk on 14 September 2016.
This was the first working visit of a member of the Luxembourg Government in the Republic of Belarus. The meeting of Minister Asselborn with his Belarusian counterpart aimed at developing further the relations between the Grand Duchy and the Republic of Belarus.
While Belarus celebrates this year the 25th anniversary of its independence, Minister Asselborn noted the progress made since. He encouraged the progressive opening of Belarus as evidenced by the recent election of opposition politicians to parliament. Welcoming the willingness of the authorities to continue on this path, Minister Asselborn said he hopes this opening will lead to a critical debate in parliament and civil society.
Discussions of Minister Asselborn with his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makei also touched upon relations between Belarus and the European Union.
Recalling that the EU has taken this year the important decision to lift most sanctions on Belarus, Minister Asselborn noted the benefits of strengthening the economic relations with the EU and insisted on the socio-economic development, the rule of law and fundamental rights. In this respect, Jean Asselborn pointed out that "we need to increase our dialogue and cooperation with Belarus. Practical and tangible steps will be needed especially in the area of human rights and democracy". He emphasized particularly the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty. Thus, the EU would be ready to reconnect with Belarus which will need to undertake in-depth reforms.
Ministers finally had an extended exchange of views on regional challenges, particularly on the situation in Ukraine, where Belarus has contributed as an intermediary to the efforts to reduce tension in the Ukrainian conflict.
The press conference following negotiations of Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei, Minsk, September 14, 2016