European Commission planning to start energy talks with Minsk, German foreign ministry says 15:31, 11/05/2007
The European Commission is planning to start talks with Minsk about energy issues in June if there are no negative changes in the "political atmosphere" in Belarus, officials of the German foreign ministry told a group of Belarusian reporters currently on a tour of Germany on Thursday.
The European Commission reportedly intended to start the first round of the negotiations this past March but backtracked on the intention becuase of the arrests of opposition activists ahead of a key opposition demonstration held in Minsk on March 25.
German foreign ministry officials recalled Alyaksandr Lukashenka`s recent pro-European rhetoric and expressed hope that relations with Minsk would normalize and become more "symmetrical" following the opening of the European Commission`s office in Minsk. They said that the EU also hoped that Minsk would send more positive signals, with the release of political prisoners among them.
On May 14, a Belarusian-German working group on economic matters is scheduled to hold its first meeting in the last two years, according to the German foreign ministry. On the agenda will be energy and transport issues, Belarus` benefits under the EU`s Generalized System of Preferences and the performance of an embattled Belarusian company.