Role of global bridge

<img class="imgl" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/images/09/080903.jpg"/>Belarus’ important proposals for Non-Aligned Movement Summit<br />
Belarus’ important proposals for Non-Aligned Movement Summit.

In July, the Non-Aligned Movement Summit (NAM) took place in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt), with 118 countries taking part (only the UN assemblies gather more). Topical global policy issues were discussed under the theme of International Solidarity for Peace and Development. For the first time in recent years, every document was adopted by consensus, showing how far we have come in seeking to move forward through the current financial crisis. Usually, even the developed countries (counted on the fingers of one hand) rarely agree.

The recent G8 Summit took place in Italian L’Aquila, beginning with eight countries and finishing in an expanded format of 14. The heads of Brazil, India, China, Mexico, the South African Republic and Egypt joined those of Italy, France, the USA, the UK, Russia, Canada, Japan and Germany. Together, they debated how best to emerge from the crisis via economic growth. Three states — India, the South African Republic and Egypt — are NAM members, while a further three — Brazil, China and India — possess NAM observer status.

Clearly, the crisis can only be solved — ensuring energy and sustainable development for the forthcoming decade — if every country takes part in the solution (even those usually overlooked). In Sharm el-Sheikh, it was made obvious that, whatever the decisions of the G8 or G20, application is impossible without the NAM members. The NAM has not lost impetus with the end of the bipolar world; rather, its influence is growing.

NAM bears a European face. When Belarus joined the NAM, many scoffed at the idea of Europe needing the company of African, Arab and Eastern states… Now, these critics are silent. It is evident that these very countries are being sought for their help: Venezuela, Vietnam, Indonesia, Libya, the UAE, Sudan and Turkmenistan possess rich natural resources. Moreover, like other key NAM members, they are ‘expanding in strength’, becoming ‘gateways to Asia’.

Belarus, being the only European NAM member, possesses greater opportunities for co-operation with these growing countries. Belarus’ Foreign Minister, Sergei Martynov — who headed the Belarusian delegation at the Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh — stressed that ‘since the European group is represented solely by us, we have no need to consult elsewhere; we are the group’.

Belarus’ participation, as the only European state, continues to arouse great interest among journalists from host countries. They continue to be bemused as to why Belarus, being a European country, has joined the NAM. Of course, the answer is that the NAM is a perfect venue for shaping the country’s image and for promoting its own initiatives and achievements. Diplomats have used this opportunity for over a decade — since Belarus became a NAM member. The last summit was a true parade of international proposals from Belarus.

Ideas: demand and supply. All of Belarus’ proposals were reflected in the documents ratified at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit. One received its first airing at Sharm el-Sheikh, aiming to establish a new group of countries within the United Nations Organisation — for ‘middle income’. Of course, no such classification yet exists; we usually say ‘industrially developed countries’, ‘developing countries’ and ‘countries with transitive economies’.

Relying on this classification, to which group would the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia belong… or the Bohemian Islands and Jamaica? They are considered to be developing countries, as proven by their membership of the Non-Aligned Movement. However, they boast a high GDP per capita and strong social protection, bringing them closer to developed countries.

Meanwhile, following the collapse of the USSR, several transitive economies appeared, including Belarus. Some have now joined the European Union while some southern CIS states, such as Tajikistan, have become classic examples of developing countries.

The criterion of ‘transitivity’ of economies is being lost; it is now more correct to speak of protecting the interests of middle income states (to which the greater part of the world’s states belong). The final documents of the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit reflect this theme. The ‘group of middle income countries’ may yet become a strong force within the UN.

One of Belarus’ most popular initiatives is counteracting human trafficking. Several years ago, the President of Belarus proposed the initiative at the UN General Assembly session, aiming to ensure greater co-ordination in combating human trafficking. This idea was followed by the realisation that a global plan of action was needed.

The NAM Summit is in favour of forming a global plan. Moreover, it has offered to host UN General Assembly consultations, which would form the basis for this plan.

The next topic of debate — initiated by Belarus — looked at equal access to alternative and renewable energy. Oil deposits will last another 20 years, while gas deposits will last for about 50 years but deposits of fossil fuels, primarily those of hydrocarbons, are finite. Most advanced states will move to alternative and renewable energy sources but poorer countries lacking access will face economic collapse. One cannot help but recall H.G. Wells’ novel, in which gloomy residents of an underground realm abducted well-fed earthly residents, eating them for supper.

Economists warn that the economic gap between developed and developing countries could become even more significant than it is today. Belarus’ initiative for a jointly elaborated mechanism of equal access to new and renewable energy sources (while respecting intellectual property rights) aims to address this divide.

Finally, alongside these initiatives (long suggested by Belarusian diplomats on the international arena) the republic proposed an absolutely new idea.
Membership of Non-Aligned Movement. In 1961, when the Non-Aligned Movement was established, the term ‘Non-Aligned’ referred to independence from military blocs.

However, the contemporary world’s traditional divisions have been replaced by a multi-polar system of international relations — one which Belarus has always supported. At the Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Belarus proposed that the Non-Aligned Movement enter into closer, ‘system-level contact’ with other powers. In particular, Mr. Martynov listed China, the USA, Russia and the EU.

Belarus believes that such collaboration will lead to idea sharing — essential for solving problems at national and international level. The US dollar is a traditional reserve currency — yet its value depends greatly on China, India and Russia. Countries are inextricably linked — with the poorest NAM members reliant on help from the world’s richest states. We are doomed to co-operation and Belarus can play its traditional role of global bridge.

[i]By Nina Romanova[/i]
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