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Belarus interested in interacting with EU on development of regions

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus is interested in the interaction with the European Union on the development of regions, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 23 May, BelTA has learned.

“I am very glad to meet with you because you deal with very serious problems. We faced them long ago, in Soviet times. These problems involve our people living in rural areas, villages and small towns. We are reliable partners for those in Europe who want good and happy lives for people living, first of all, in rural areas,” the president said.

Alexander Lukashenko remarked that the recent events in Minsk involving this European body are entwined in the fabric of normalization of Belarus' relations with Europe. “You are preparing corresponding recommendations for the European Union on a big spectrum of relations between Belarus and the EU, especially for the Eastern Partnership Initiative. I am grateful to you for the avenues of cooperation which were, first of all, considered in Belarus during the session of your Bureau,” the Belarusian leader said.

The head of state is convinced that this visit will be the next step in the establishment of good neighborly relations between Belarus and the EU.

“I was very much interested in your arrival in Belarus. You have arrived with the team of specialists. And first of all, we would like you to learn more about Belarus and see the openness of our country,” the president stressed.

Alexander Lukashenko also mentioned one more pragmatic interest concerning the development of Belarus-Finland cooperation. “I have never been to Finland, your Homeland, but for some reason I think that this country can be an example for us in many fields,” the head of state said. “I think that at off-work time you will also help make Belarus and Finland closer to each other. We are strongly interested in it.”

Markku Markkula, in turn, thanked the Belarusian side for the invitation and holding events in Minsk. “The influence of our organization in Europe is rather high. Just like you in Belarus, we pay special attention to people living in small populated areas, villages and want to create a decent level of social security for them, to fulfill a key objective to ensure stable social standing in the society in general,” he said.

The European Committee of the Regions is a consultative body representing local and regional authorities of 28 EU member states. It comprises 350 members appointed for a five-year term following the recommendation of the governments of the European Union member states with the right to be appointed for the second term.

The cooperation of the member states of the Eastern Partnership Initiative (EaP) with the European Committee of the Regions in local self-government was established in 2011 in the format of the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP).

CORLEAP includes 18 representatives of EaP countries (three from each country) and 18 representatives of the European Committee of the Regions. Belarus is represented in CORLEAP by the Council for the Interaction of Local Self-Government Bodies at the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly.

The session of the CORLEAP Bureau took place in Minsk.