On the way to global security
[b]At the OSCE Summit in Astana, Belarus has been a major newsmaker. The recent joint statement by Minsk and Washington regarding Belarusian-American interaction in nuclear non-proliferation was unexpected for many political analysts and journalists. However, the document clearly wasn’t ‘out of the blue’; serious actions don’t appear as if by magic. It was preceded by thorough diplomacy, with Minsk defending its own interests [/b]“The adopted joint statement confirms that Belarus and the USA share a similar position regarding nuclear non-proliferation, wishing to co-operate to achieve their goals,” noted Belarus’ Foreign Minister, Sergei Martynov, after negotiations with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Martynov focused attention on several important aspects. The joint statement particularly underlined Belarus’ role as one of the countries which has inherited nuclear weapons.
“The adopted joint statement confirms that Belarus and the USA share a similar position regarding nuclear non-proliferation, wishing to co-operate to achieve their goals,” noted Belarus’ Foreign Minister, Sergei Martynov, after negotiations with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Martynov focused attention on several important aspects. The joint statement particularly underlined Belarus’ role as one of the countries which has inherited nuclear weapons. It was also one of the first states to join the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Mr. Martynov added that the USA has confirmed its security guarantees to Belarus, as fixed in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. According to this document, as long as our country honours its obligations to liquidate its nuclear weapons, Russia, the USA and the UK have guaranteed to respect Belarus’ independence, sovereignty and current borders. The nuclear powers have also pledged to refuse to use force or threaten force against the territorial integrity of Belarus.
According to Mr. Martynov, the Astana agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy is ‘an important component in the interaction of our two states’. “This is especially vital, since it refers to Belarus’ serious efforts to diversify its path to receive energy,” notes the Belarusian Minister, adding that the agreement promotes the implementation of Minsk’s plans to construct its own nuclear power station for civil purposes. He underlined that this site will meet all IAEA security norms.
The joint statement by Minsk and Washington also notes that Belarus has adopted a decision ‘to eliminate its highly enriched uranium stockpiles’; it ‘plans to fulfil this by the time the next Nuclear Security Summit is held, in 2012’. The USA supports this decision and plans to provide technical and financial assistance to our country to complete this project as expeditiously as possible.
Speaking at the OSCE plenary session, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, called the joint statement by Belarus and the USA ‘an important and definite contribution to our common desire to create a secure Europe and world’. The Belarusian President stressed that Minsk favours the creation of a single security system within the zone of OSCE responsibility. “Nuclear states — OSCE member countries — could provide unconditional and unambiguous guarantees of security, sovereignty and territorial integrity to OSCE non-nuclear member countries,” asserted the President.
Analysing OSCE activity, Mr. Lukashenko noted that the major security issues are currently in the shadow of the humanitarian ‘basket’: human rights, the development of democratic institutes and election monitoring. According to official Minsk, these outweigh all other issues, with OSCE activity primarily centring on election monitoring. Noting this, the Belarusian President pointed out that the organisation has failed to elaborate universal principles on how to decide whether elections standards are being fulfilled. The current indistinct criteria of the OSCE are a ‘stick’ in the hands of various states.
Returning to issues of military-political security, the Belarusian leader asserted that, this year, persistent efforts by Belarus and Russia have allowed the re-launch of work to update the 1999 Vienna Document — a considerable step. The Vienna Document was adopted at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul, with 56 OSCE member states agreeing to strengthen trust and ensure common security by sharing military information annually; as a result, regular mutual inspections are conducted. Serious changes have taken place worldwide since it was originally signed, with over half of the document’s regulations no longer relevant. Improvement is required, so Belarus has presented a comprehensive proposal on how best to update the Vienna Document. It hopes to see its suggestions supported.
The President of Belarus also presented a range of other initiatives at the Summit in Astana. These tackled freedom of movement (abolition of visa barriers), counteracting human trafficking and collaboration of OSCE members in the energy sphere. According to Belarus, the OSCE’s potential is far from utilised, with Belarus one of the most active supporters of its serious reformation. Minsk is using an exclusively constructive approach, as Mr. Lukashenko stressed. It’s vital to think of what should be done rather than allocating blame.
By Vitaly Volyanyuk