Planet’s business foothold
[b]Widely covered by the world’s press, primarily because of the Syrian issue, the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit saw many key themes discussed. The venue’s elaborate new economic policy was particularly emphasised by Belarus’ Foreign Minister, Vladimir Makei, who noted the necessity of moving NAM activity from politics towards economics...[/b]
Speaking to journalists behind the scenes of the NAM Summit in Tehran, Iran’s Vice President for International Affairs, Ali Saidlu, agreed, noting that NAM countries account for 76 percent of the world’s oil deposits. He believes this must surely form an important basis for their economic development. He confirmed that all previous NAM summits discussed primarily political problems while the Tehran Summit has tackled co-operation in the sphere of economics. He is eager to see NAM states make full use of their economic potential, which is so very high. Members also hold 53 percent of the world’s extracted oil, around 66 percent of the world’s gas deposits and 39 percent of the world’s blue fuel. Moreover, all OPEC countries are NAM members.
On the eve of the summit, American Foreign Policy magazine asked two experts whether the meeting of the leaders of 120 countries in Tehran thumbed a nose to America. Each responded differently, although noting that the NAM unites mostly developing countries. However, members such as India and Indonesia are not as poor as they once were. The weight of other NAM members is also rising.
RELYING ON GROWTH
Using our own country as an example, in the mid-1990s, many were surprised to see European Belarus joining the association, since it mostly united developing African, Latin American and Asian states. At that time, political opponents used the issue to criticise Alexander Lukashenko. However, joining the Non-Aligned Movement has proven beneficial, ensuring a high level of political interaction with the growing economies of the world. It has also opened the door to beneficial contracts, allowing Belarus to gain a foothold in promoting its exports to Venezuela, India, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Ties with many have strengthened due to NAM membership.
Saying this, bilateral contacts are not enough alone; we must move further, towards a single economic platform, as Belarus directly declared at the Tehran Summit, making definite proposals. The major issue is how to react to the recent world economic crisis. Minsk was one of the first to formulate the idea of a fair global partnership, bridging the gap between rich and poor, developed and developing countries. The crisis has inspired the world’s richer states to direct their eyes towards growing economies, since these have shown their increased importance in the modern world. It’s now vital to ‘significantly raise our foothold in the sphere of economic and technological development’.
Belarus is looking to ‘countries with mid-incomes’ — to which the greater part of the world’s states belong. It’s high time to defend our interests.
JOINT GLOBAL MANAGEMENT
At the previous summit, in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Belarusian diplomats proposed that the Non-Aligned Movement make more systematic contact with other principally important centres of economic and political power. This proposal remains relevant, as Mr. Makei stressed, noting the necessity of ‘strengthening the interaction of the NAM with world power centres’.
China, which is undoubtedly a contemporary power centre, has indirectly supported this proposal. Although the PRC isn’t a NAM member, it has had observer status since 1992.
After the NAM Summit in Tehran, a representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Ma Zhaoxu, noted that Beijing is paying attention to the role of this organisation in international affairs — primarily because the NAM is a symbol of the growing aspiration of developing states towards unity. The organisation could become an important force in promoting joint development.
Xinhua News Agency notes that developed countries boast greater voting rights than developing states within international organisations, which clearly needs reform. In particular, ‘joint global management’ would ensure that all countries, without exception, can take part in decision making regarding global issues, by having equal voting rights. China especially notes the rationality of such an approach.
Russia — another influential partner — also has observer status in the Non-Aligned Movement. After the summit, the Russian News Agency noted that the NAM has played a key role over the years in striving for a common ideology for two thirds of the world. In recent years, the economic focus of the NAM has become more noticeable: co-operative development, solution of debt problems; and action against inequality in world trade. As a result, NAM ideology has become the basis for a UN programme entitled Millennium Development Goals.
Meanwhile, the RIA Novosti underlines that the NAM remains important in the face of the old bipolar world system becoming more multi-polar.
Regardless of contradictions between NAM states on a range of acute issues, it has adopted a document to bring members more in line. Belarus has taken an active part in elaborating the NAM’s single position, which was the major result of the summit in Tehran.
By Nina Romanova