Rebooting relations? Why not

Minsk visited by Poland’s Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, for the first time in eight years
Belarus and Poland can play a significant role in Europe and can influence many processes, noted the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, during his meeting with Poland’s Foreign Minister. He stated, “We live close to each other and share a common history; we have one and the same problems, with some having more problems and others less.”

The Belarusian Head of State expressed hope that the visit of the Foreign Minister to Belarus will help our countries develop bilateral relations more intensively.

The two sides had much to talk about in Minsk, with Mr. Lukashenko underlining, “Our problems aren’t difficult to assess or to solve. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The most important thing is to agree our criteria, which I don’t think will be a problem.” He stresses that Belarus will proceed from a desire to build relations: the basis also of Polish foreign policy. He asserts, “We’ll protect our sovereignty and independence, as you do. There are no differences between us in this respect. Having observed you, we’ll use your example of implementing social and economic policy, but we’ll try to do so in a manner unreproachable for lack of democracy.”

Mr. Lukashenko thanked Poland for accepting Belarus as a sovereign and independent country, saying, “If partners with whom we’re engaged in dialogue make us choose between the East and the West (i.e. between Russia and the European Union) we won’t accept this position. I’m absolutely convinced that such a move won’t benefit you either. I believe that Poland, more than anyone, would like Belarus to be an independent and stable state. I think that, after Ukraine, the West has no need for another unstable state. It wouldn’t benefit Poland.”

The Belarusian Head of State stressed that Poland has never made ultimatums, adding, “Being at the centre of the European continent, Belarus and Poland play an important role. We have influence over processes and can act in the best interests of Poland and Belarus, but should never do so at the expense of our neighbours.”

During the meeting with the President, Witold Waszczykowski emphasized that the new Polish government intends to launch unconditional dialogue with our country. A couple of years ago, it was impossible to hear such an opinion from an EU politician. Undoubtedly, it’s a pleasant situation, inspiring optimism.

As far as Belarus is concerned, because of its multi-vector foreign political strategy, it is always ready to develop constructive and mutually respectful relations with all states. These principles remain unchanged for Belarusian-Polish dialogue. Mr. Lukashenko is determined to build relations which serve our national interests and the security of the state, as top priorities.

Poland remains one of Belarus’ most important trade partners in the western direction. Despite reduced trade turnover last year, $1.8bln of goods and services were exported and imported. Polish companies invested almost $200mln into the Belarusian economy, and over 350 enterprises with Polish capital currently operate in Belarus. Almost two-dozen representatives of large Belarusian companies work in Poland.

Proposals to increase trade turnover are to be discussed this summer, at a session of the Intergovernmental Commission. This is especially acute in the context of the transit attractiveness of our states, connecting the EU with the Eurasian Economic Union. Why not use this factor to expand economic partnerships and to create new joint logistics and social infrastructure projects?

Such an approach is vital, since many ethnic Belarusians live in Poland, and Poles account for a considerable share of our citizens. However, Mr. Lukashenko believes that ethnic division serves little purpose. He notes, “We don’t have Belarusians, Poles, Jews, Russians or Ukrainians. We have citizens of Belarus, who enjoy the same rights and will always have equal status. Each person goes to the church they believe necessary. I have an equal attitude towards everyone, and this will continue.”

By Vasily Kharitonov

Convincing mandate of trust

Belarus makes proposals on the UN General Secretary selection

Belarus has presented its proposals on securing the open and efficient selection of the candidate to the post of the UN Secretary Ge-neral. The Permanent Representative of Belarus to the UN, Andrei Dapkiunas, spoke at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalisation of Work of the General Assembly, which was devoted to the selection and appointment of the next UN Secretary General.

The Security Council recommends nominees to the General Assembly. The head of Belarus` mission to the UN has proposed that the 70-year age limit be removed, alongside the necessity of UN member states only proposing one candidate. Mr. Dapkiunas wishes to see Security Council members be given more freedom in selecting a candidate (or candidates), free from excessive pressure or over-regulation.

The Belarusian representative drew attention to the need to ensure the independence of the Secretary General, rising above the influence of particular states, while having full accountability to the General Assembly.

By Vladislav Veremeev
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