MINSK, 27 September (BelTA) – Belarus urges other countries to draw up a declaration of responsible countries on the non-deployment of medium and shorter-range missiles in Europe, Belarus' Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said as he addressed the General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on 27 September.
The Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) became ineffective in August 2019. The treaty was one of the pillars of the modern disarmament architecture and one of the symbols of the end of the Cold War.
“There is now a real danger that such missiles, with a flying time of several minutes, will be deployed in various regions, including in Europe. This will inevitably entail increased tension, a new spiral of political and military confrontation, as well as an increased risk of a nuclear apocalypse. This is why we urge immediate concerted action to preserve the achievements of the INF Treaty in our common home – in Europe,” the minister said.
Speaking at the international conference on countering terrorism in Minsk on 3 September, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus did not intend to produce or deploy these missiles provided that such weapons would not pose a threat to the country's security. The Belarusian president suggested that responsible countries draw up a declaration on the non-deployment of medium and shorter-range missiles in Europe.
“Our country urges to start working on the draft declaration as soon as possible. We call upon states on both sides of the Atlantic, who care about the fate of humanity, to support us in this endeavor. The United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe could be proper venues for this work,” Vladimir Makei said.
The key element of this document is for the governments to set out clear and firm commitments by countries not to deploy medium- and shorter-range missiles on their territory and to abandon their production. “We understand that the implementation of the initiative will require political will and involve a laborious negotiation process. Wise men used to say, ‘The one who walks finishes the journey' [Viam supervadet vadens]. After all, ideas for the treaties on the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons, on the reduction of nuclear arsenals, and on conventional weapons were also once considered a pipe dream,” the minister said.