By Igor Slavinsky
On meeting his South American guest, Mr. Lukashenko joked that only few planes in the world travel directly from Ecuador to Belarus and thanked Ricardo Patino Aroca for making such a long flight. He stressed that ‘we’re ready to conduct dialogue with your country, while developing co-operation’ and ‘we have absolutely no restrictions or closed topics’. Mr. Lukashenko invited his guest to build business relations directly or trilaterally via Venezuela.
Successful co-operation between Belarus and Venezuela is not only valuable in itself but serves as an example to other Latin American states — such as Ecuador. When first contacts between Minsk and Caracas began, the distance between our continents was a little restraining. However, now that Belarus has gained a strong foothold, including with Venezuelan deposits, the 11,000km distance between Minsk and Ecuador’s capital of Quito is irrelevant. The interests of our two states coincide, as does our desire to collaborate; no obstacles surmount such determination.
Ecuador resembles Venezuela in many respects, adhering to an independent policy in its politics and relying on oil extraction to generate revenue — alongside the sale of bananas, flowers and coffee. Mr. Lukashenko noted with satisfaction that Belarus and Ecuador ‘already enjoy a respectable turnover, despite their distance’ [$40m a year]. “We have contacts and already collaborate, so let’s shift this experience to other spheres, enhancing it further,” he emphasised.
Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration is responsible not only for diplomacy but for foreign economic relations — as seen from the official name of his post. Ricardo Patino Aroca told the President that his talks with Belarusian colleague Sergei Martynov had been fruitful. “We’ll search for common ground in the domestic and foreign sphere,” he noted, adding that Minsk and Quito aim to develop trade-economic relations. He believes that ‘the potential for growth in this sphere is huge’. The shift from ‘mere trade to co-operative ties’ is now vital.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry hopes to collaborate regarding exploration and mining of oil and other mineral deposits. Meanwhile, Ecuador’s 15 million population is in need of transport infrastructure, accommodation and factories: areas in which Belarus is currently helping Venezuela. Ricardo Patino Aroca has officially invited Mr. Lukashenko to visit Quito ‘at any convenient time’.