Lukashenko will not attend Eastern Partnership summit in Prague

01-05-2009

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko will not take part in the EU’s Eastern Partnership summit due to be held in Prague on May 7th, the CTK news agency reported on Friday, citing a source close to the Czech EU presidency. According to the source, Belarus will be represented by Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko. President Lukashenko has come under fire for his authoritarian style of rule and there were mixed feelings about whether Belarus should be invited to the summit. President Klaus made it clear that he would not be welcome at Prague Castle if he did arrive.

The Eastern Partnership scheme aims to forge closer ties between the EU and six former Soviet republics, a plan that has angered Moscow. It aims to accelerate political and economic reforms in the region in return for EU support and concessions of trade and travel. While the Czech EU presidency has championed the project some of the old EU member states remain lukewarm about the idea.