MINSK -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says his country 'Will always be the European Union's partner.'
Speaking on February 18 at the start of talks with the visiting European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Gunther Oettinger, Lukashenka said 'there always have been and always will be [problems between Belarus and the EU], but they are not of a chronic character and can be solved.'
'We think that neighbors are given by God, they cannot be chosen and that is why it is necessary to develop ties with them,' Lukashenka said 'And because of that we will always be a reliable partner of the European Union.'
Lukashenka's meeting with Oettinger took place just days after Lukashenka's visit to Russia, where he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 13-15 on further integration between the two nations.
The EU eased sanctions against Belarus in 2016 after the release of several people considered political prisoners, but has criticized Lukashenka's government for a violent March 2017 clampdown on demonstrators protesting an unemployment tax.
With reporting by BelTA RFE/RL's Belarus Service
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