European Union foreign ministers decided on visas and freezing the accounts of the Belarusian authorities, while understanding that there will be no rapid change in this country, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said, reports ELTA. The ministers decided to impose visa bans on 157 people, freeze the accounts of some officials and simplify Schengen visa procedures for ordinary Belarusian citizens. “The dual approach allows us to hope for real results from our effort, to develop civil society. No one expects quick results, and everyone understands that this is a long walk. If you remember 2006, what the Belarusian civil society was at that time and what it is now, we see a big difference, thus those who say that there has been no progress in the development of civil society are not quite right,” said Azubalis. The EU foreign ministers gave no prominence to the release of a few political prisoners. “Everybody saw it as an incomplete, and overdue thing, and sufficiently vague and contradictory, given the fact that there are some 26 detainees still in prison,” said Azubalis.
The foreign ministers of Russia and Lithuania, Sergei Lavrov and Audronius Azubalis, were to meet on Feb. 2 to discuss ways to strengthen trust between the two countries, reports Itar-Tass-ELTA. Lavrov planned to inform his Lithuanian counterpart on “Russian priorities in the OSCE, views on enhancing the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), exchange opinions on its role in a dynamically changing world, first of all from the point of view of real contribution to the settlement of topical problems in the zone of its responsibility,” Russian Foreign Ministry sources said. “Moscow expects that the Lithuanian chairmanship will make it possible to discuss substantively and coordinate such major issues as the approval of the OSCE Charter, the new version of the Vienna Document on measures of strengthening trust and security, the initiated by Russia program of further moves in the sphere of arms control and measures of strengthening trust and security, as well as consider the implementation by the countries’ participants of earlier assumed commitments on ensuring the freedom of movement and liberalization of visa regimes,” the sources stressed.