Lukashenko calls for Latvia-Belarus ties at a new level

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Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko believes that intensification of the political dialogue between Belarus and Latvia is one of the most urgent tasks on the bilateral agenda, BelTA news agency reported on Monday. 

As he accepted the credentials of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Latvia to Belarus Mārtiņš Virsis, Lukashenko said that Belarus and Latvia do not only share a common border, but are also connected by long traditions of good neighborliness.

“By joint efforts, we have managed to build strong bridges in trade and investment and establish regional and cross-border cooperation,” the Belarus head of state said. 

He also said that he held two meetings with the Latvian President in New York [at the UN Generally Assembly Session] to discuss the prospects of bilateral cooperation.

Lukashenko said that the positive dynamics which has emerged in the dialogue with the EU recently, will lead to the full normalization of relations between Belarus and the EU. 

“We must advance these relations to a brand-new level which will satisfy the interests of the two sides,” the Belarusian head of state said, according to BelTA.

Alexander Lukashenko stressed that due to the geographic location and objective reasons Belarus attaches special importance to the relations with the European Union. “The situation in the region, common threats and challenges require solid contacts and the search of common solutions,” the Belarusian leader said.

Relationships between the EU and Belarus have been rather tense the last few years. The European press has called Lukashenko the "Last dictator in Europe" for freedom and human rights violations in Belarus. The EU sanctions against Lukashenko and a number of high-standing officials of his administration are still in force; however, since Lukashenko has become the intermediary that calls for a resolution of the conflict in Ukraine, the relations have become warmer. 

In August Latvian diplomat Maira Mora, Head of EU Delegation to Belarus, announced that the relations between Belarus and the EU are becoming better. "I would like them to stay that way in the future," LSM's Russian-language site reported the words Mora said during the audience by Lukashenko upon leaving Belarus.

While Lukashenko answered: "We know that you did very much sincerely, but what you couldn't do you left out, and we understood this silence."

Latvia has always supported contacts, including direct contacts, with the administration of Belarus even when the relations between Minsk and the EU were close to freezing up.

As found out in the Latvijas Vēstnesis state news archive, on July 11, 2007 the then-Prime Minister of Latvia Ivars Godmanis met his Belarusian colleague Sergei Sidorsky. As the latter could not enter the EU due to sanctions, the two met in a quite literally neutral ground, that is, in a house of no-man's land, that is, at a border commissary's house that was located on a "no-man's land" strip by the Silene-Urbāni border crossing point near the Latvia-Belarus border.

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