Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses the media after talks with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen at the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

VIENNA (AP) — Belarus' authoritarian leader says his nation is hoping for better ties with the European Union.

President Alexander Lukashenko made the comments Tuesday after talking to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen during a visit to that country.

Lukashenko said Austria could help normalize Belarus-EU relations. He also hailed Austria as "a key and reliable partner" for Belarus.

During his quarter century rule of Belarus, Lukashenko has shown little tolerance for dissent and independent media. Belarus has relied heavily on Russian financial support, but Lukashenko has recently sought to mend ties with the West.

The U.S. and the European Union have lifted some sanctions they imposed on Belarus, while Lukashenko has sought to improve his nation's human rights record.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses the media after talks with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen at the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, talks with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, right, during their meeting in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, talks with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, right, during their meeting in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, shakes hands with Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen, right, ahead of their meeting in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, left, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, attend a military ceremony ahead of their meeting in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, attend a military ceremony ahead of their meeting in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses the media after talks with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen at the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen addresses the media after talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)