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Fears of EU split as 'last dictator' of Belarus is invited to summit | World news | The Guardian

An attempt by Europe to bring its "last dictator" in from the cold by inviting Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarussian president, to a summit of 27 EU government leaders could backfire by aggravating EU divisions, it was feared yesterday.

Many European leaders are hoping that Lukashenko - who has been in power for 15 years, has been blacklisted by Brussels on account of his authoritarian rule and was until recently subject to a travel ban - will not take up the invitation to the Prague summit on 7 May.

The summit is to launch the EU's new "eastern partnership" policy with six former Soviet bloc states, aimed at increasing Brussels' clout in the region at the expense of Moscow's.

Lukashenko, head of the most isolated state in Europe, has been invited together with the leaders of Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, delivered the invitation in person to Belarus's president in Minsk on Friday.

by Fran on Wed Apr 22nd, 2009 at 02:10:17 PM EST
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