Belarus’ position on OSCE reform remains unchanged
Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ivica Dacic, visits Minsk and meets the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko
Alexander Lukashenko and Ivica Dacic during their meeting in Minsk
There’s nothing surprising in the visit, as our country has been a fully-fledged participant of Europe’s largest international organisation for 23 years while interacting with its institutes. Belarus supports the OSCE’s priority role (fixed in the Charter of European Security) in settling conflict within the area of its responsibility. The country respects the sovereignty and state integrity of the organisation’s member states. As a result, Minsk’s official foreign policy aims of developing dialogue, as well as the country’s well-considered position on the Ukrainian issue, have been positively perceived by the member states and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.
Belarus has provided the venue in Minsk for negotiations and for the achievement of firm agreements to de-escalate the situation in the east of Ukraine. This has helped to strengthen Belarus’ image as a neutral state with serious peacekeeping intentions. Nevertheless, we are not complacent about our success. On the contrary, the President believes that other heads of OSCE member states could have made a more proactive contribution to the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. “If there’s a war, then the heads of state should have met urgently to discuss this problem and take some decisions to implement various measures. Even if they were unable or unwilling to implement these measures, at least they would have a chance to discuss their opinions with the other states. So far this is not happening,” stated the President of Belarus.
Mr. Lukashenko consequently has a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the OSCE. He is convinced that the organisation could play a much more positive peacekeeping role, despite the difficulties it has itself within the organisation. “OSCE is doing its best to help regulate the conflict in the east of Ukraine. However, with the powers the OSCE has today and no support from the heads of state, the organisation is powerless in this situation. This is the reason why we have new formats like Normandy, Berlin, Minsk and others. It could have been done by one organisation, the OSCE. It is its function,” noted the Head of State.
In return, Mr. Dacic pointed out that Serbia, currently presiding over the OSCE, is doing its best to promote the political process in the region, especially regarding the Ukrainian issue. Serbia also attaches equal importance to other conflicts in Europe. The Foreign Minister was quick to confirm the peacekeeping contribution of Belarus, “Numerous agreements are reached here, in Minsk, with meetings of a trilateral contact group, as well as its working subgroups. In this respect, Belarus has made a huge impact on the peace process.” It continues to do this and there have been discussions as to whether Belarus could take on the role of a secretariat in the negotiations process with Ukraine. Belarus’ Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei confirmed, “Belarus completely supports the efforts of the Serbian presidency in the OSCE, aimed at strengthening the organisation and enhancing security and stability within the zone of responsibility.”
Mr. Dacic conveyed greetings from the Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolic, and the Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, to Alexander Lukashenko and commented on the friendly relations between the two countries, “We’re committed to developing the comprehensive relations between our two countries including in the political, economic, scientific, cultural, educational and defence sectors.”
This isn’t merely protocol or exchange of niceties. On June 15th-16th, the OSCE General Secretary, Lamberto Zannier, and Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Michael Georg Link, visited our country. They met Alexander Lukashenko to approve another package of projects for three areas of security. Constructive co-operation continues and, on being in the Belarusian capital, Mr. Dacic took part in a session of the trilateral group on the settlement of the situation in Ukraine. This can be seen as the first steps of the activation of OSCE’s role in the region and it’s symbolic that they have been made in Minsk.
By Vasily Kharitonov