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Paet and Sikorski: We Must Continue to Support the Democratic Forces and Civil Society in Belarus

28.08.2012

No 301-E

Opening the seminar for the representatives of Belorussian civil society with the Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasized that it is still important to continue supporting the democratic forces and civil society of Belarus. “In order for democratic change to take place in Belarus, the people of Belarus must be given an opportunity to interact with the world,” Paet said.

Paet also noted that despite recent developments in Belarus, the Eastern Partnership remains the best instrument for supporting change in the country. According to Paet, the diplomatic conflict that recently flared up between Sweden and Belarus has complicated matters and has made it more difficult for the European Union to help Belarus. However, the diplomatic crisis should not affect the projects aimed directly at supporting and developing the society of Belarus. “We know from personal experience the importance of the support of friends and neighbours during the period of transition,” Paet said. “That is why we decided to establish the Centre of Eastern Partnership in Tallinn, enabling us to share our experiences and knowledge and support our eastern neighbours in their progress,” the Foreign Minister added.

However, Paet also underlined that the Belorussians’ desire and will to enact reforms is just as important as the continuing support of Europe. “Without people’s hard work and desire, external help is never enough to achieve one’s goals,” he said. “Hopefully, this seminar will germinate ideas that help to change Belarus for the better,” Paet added.

The seminar organised by the Center of Eastern Partnership on 27-29 August in Tallinn and aimed at representatives of the civil society of Belarus focuses on issues related to democracy and parliamentarism. The seminar is Estonia’s contribution to the European Union modernisation dialogue that was launched in March 2012.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry/sets/721576312683...

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