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Time to recharge relations

Belarus ready to sign basic agreement with EU on partnership and co-operation
Belarus’ Foreign Minister, Vladimir Makei, noted at a recent press conference, during his visit to Latvia, “We, in Belarus, are ready to commence work on an agreement in the interests of both Belarus, which wants to normalise relations with the EU, and the European Union.”

Meeting between V. Makei and Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis

According to Mr. Makei, there are steps that we both can and should take in order to normalise our relations. He commented, “We’re working on these steps, being satisfied with continuing positive progress in our relations with the EU. One of the main steps in this regard is the signing of a new framework agreement between Belarus and the European Union, as mentioned by Mr. Rinkevics [the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs].”

Mr. Makei noted that the situation is somewhat absurd, underlining, “We’re still guided by an old agreement signed between the USSR and the European Economic Community in 1989, which is absolutely out of date and does not correspond to the current situation. Our meetings, alternately in Minsk and in Riga, or at various international venues, have become a good tradition. However, the open and comprehensive atmosphere I now enjoy at all meetings and negotiations with my colleague, and between our delegations, is of a new level, and is very pleasing.”

As far as Belarusian-Latvian relations are concerned, both sides have agreed to implement joint bilateral and multilateral projects in the spheres of trade-economic co-operation, solving border issues, as well as those relating to transport and logistics, information and communication technology. Preparations are now underway for the 7th Belarusian-Latvian Business Forum, due to take place in September 2016.

Another session of the joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade-Economic and Sci-Tech Co-operation is scheduled for this autumn. “We’ve agreed to draw up a list of concrete projects, to facilitate trade turnover between our countries and further develop trade-economic interaction across all areas,” noted Mr. Makei.

Negotiations in Riga scrutinised dialogue between the ministries and departments of Belarus and Latvia. Mr. Makei stressed, “This is very important. Our foreign political departments enjoy almost ideal relations but we need to ensure the same for other ministries and departments, bringing a clear level of trust and understanding across all spheres. We’ve agreed on certain steps and plan to sign several additional agreements on interaction, between various state bodies of Belarus and Russia.”

Belarus isn’t keen to create new divisional lines in Europe, notes Belarus’ Foreign Minister. Speaking on whether Russian aviation bases may be placed in Belarus if additional NATO troops arrive in the Baltic States, Mr. Makei stated, “I can’t say what will happen in the future. Of course, we’ll thoroughly analyse the situation in our region and take adequate measures of response. However, we’re not keen to contribute to military tension in our region or on the European continent as a whole. We don’t want to create new divisional lines in Europe. We’re a small country and the development of our state depends on peace and tranquillity in the region.”

The Minister stresses that Belarus will carefully consider its response to military threat, underlining, “As far as the placement of additional soldiers on our territory, the President of Belarus some time ago expressed his position unambiguously. There were official statements from Belarus at other levels, too. Our position hasn’t changed in this respect.” 

By Alexander Pimenov
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