Meeting with Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz

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I hope the West will take a number of steps to improve the relations with Belarus, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz in Minsk on 4 May.

“We would like your country and the West in general to take a closer look at Belarus, make corresponding conclusions, take certain steps in the right direction,” the head of state said.

The head of state remarked that at the beginning of his presidency he analyzed the relations between Belarus and Western countries and came up with a conclusion that the West had assigned certain countries to be in charge of cooperation with certain former Soviet republics. Austria was put in charge of the relations with Belarus. The President emphasized that Belarus has contacted with Austria more often than with other countries. Austria has invested a lot and brought cutting-edge technologies to Belarus. “I was not against stepping up relations with Austria. Germany was also interested in cooperation with Belarus. I agreed with that,” the Belarusian leader said. At the same time, he reminded that the West decided to change its tactics and strategies in relation to Belarus. “We had no other options but to accept this position,” the Belarusian head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that there is some thawing in Belarus’ relations with the West.

“I believe that your visit will be important. Your arrival is a good sign,” the President said.

Speaking about the bilateral relations, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he is satisfied with the present level of cooperation between Belarus and Austria. In his words, the Austrian side invested over $500 million in the Belarusian economy in 2014. However, he remarked that the volume of investments used to reach $900 million. “I hope that your visit will give impetus to our cooperation. If you are concerned about something in relation to Belarus or in Belarus, please do not hesitate to share these concerns with me,” the President stressed.

The Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz, in turn, said that Belarus and Austria maintain close economic contacts. Sebastian Kurz noted that during the meeting with Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei last November an agreement was reached to give impetus to the development of relations of Belarus with Austria. In general, the parties agreed to do their best to contribute to the development of the positive momentum in the relations between Belarus and the European Union.