November 24, 2017, BELGIUM, Belarusian leader Aleksander Lukashenko, often called Europe’s “last dictator,” has been invited to the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit at European Union headquarters in Brussels. The invitation has upset some EU members.
Ahead of the previous four EaP summits, the EU made it clear that Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for over two decades, was not welcome, according to regional publication RFERL. If Lukashenko accepts, it will be his first visit to the EU capital.
The European Observer reports that former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who now advises the Ukrainian president, sees dialogue with Lukashenko as " beneficial for Europe" because it could weaken the Minsk-Moscow axis.
The publication notes that Lukashenko's 23-year rule has been marked by the murders and jailing of opposition leaders, rigged elections, and goon-squad beatings of peaceful protesters on the streets of Minsk.
Europe lifted its visa ban on Lukashenko and 169 other Belarusians in Feb 2017 in acknowledgement of improving human rights in the country.
The summits, which take place every two years, are designed to build closer EU relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
EU invites 'last dictator' to Brussels summit (EU Observer Oct 2017)
EU 'Ready To Welcome' Lukashenka To Upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit (RFERL Oct 2017