Positions coincide well while ambitions find mutual support

Alexander Lukashenko and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s official meeting in Minsk is held in evident warmth and trust
By Vasily Kharitonov

From the first minute, it was clear that the parties have long known each other, enjoying great understanding and sharing common points of view and various assessments. The direction of the conversation was noted by the President, who emphasised the unity of our two countries’ positions on problematic international issues. He explained, “It is important to discuss some questions of foreign policy co-operation in the international arena. It would also be good to discuss our Belarusian-Russian relations but there is no urgency, as there are no points of tension.”

This year has been significant for our two states. Twenty years ago, diplomatic relations were established between Belarus and Russia and, now, Russia is our strategic partner. Remarkably, the anniversary coincides with the intensification of dialogue at the highest level. This year, Minsk was visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin and by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: the leaders of both houses of parliament. Heads of Russian regions also visited Belarus, giving a positive stimulus to our bilateral partnerships — economically and regarding foreign policy. We’ve seen a substantial increase in turnover, stronger co-operative ties between our industrialists and mutually beneficial co-operation in the field of innovative technologies.

Our two states traditionally enjoy mutual interests in the international arena and co-ordinate their foreign policies while working together on the creation of the Union State. Mr. Lukashenko emphasised the fruitful co-operation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus with that of Russia, saying, “We always say that our ministries of foreign affairs have exemplary relations. We hope that our other agencies will enjoy the same.”

The President stressed that Belarus fully supports Russia’s position on the Syrian issue. He noted, “Our position on international issues and ‘hot spots’ coincides absolutely with that of the Russian Federation. We support all your aspirations, especially in normalising the situation in Syria.”

The upcoming parliamentary elections in Belarus were another topic of conversation between Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Lavrov. International observers are already arriving but the President noted some disturbing factors, saying, “Political activity is intensifying but not always in the right direction. Belarus has no such outbursts. Only the West is giving us issues — as ever.”

Mr. Lukashenko commented on the appointment of Matteo Mekachchi as the head of the mission of OSCE observers of the upcoming parliamentary elections, noting, “They might have found a more conversant person regarding Belarus and its situation. We are now studying everything carefully and, of course, will react accordingly.”

Mr. Lavrov recalled that he had already discussed the elections at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. He explained, “We decided that the CIS Heads of State should enhance the role of the CIS observers’ mission at the presidential and parliamentary elections — to ensure that more of our observers influence these processes in Europe. There shouldn’t be a monopoly by the OSCE in the face of the ODIHR and the Parliamentary Assembly. Assessments need to be given on the basis of collective, well-considered opinions.”

According to Mr. Lavrov, Russia will ensure the participation of its citizens in various observation missions of the Belarusian Parliamentary Elections — within the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the ODIHR and the mission of CIS observers. He explained, “I can assure you that we’ll do our best to ensure that our evaluation is objective and unbiased. There is growing awareness within the OSCE that it is necessary to restore order in this area. In July, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted a decision to conduct a comparative analysis of the election laws of all OSCE member countries, aiming to develop common criteria. It’s important for us to give this parliamentary decision an intergovernmental format, as it will be one of the topics discussed by a joint session of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and that of Russia — being held in October in Minsk. Of course, we’ll discuss all international issues at this meeting, including difficult, disturbing events in North Africa, the Middle East and other ‘hot spots’.”

Mr. Lavrov stressed that he has already discussed the concrete steps needed to implement high level agreements between Russia and Belarus at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. Those regarding parliamentary support of Eurasian integration processes are among the most vital.
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