MINSK, 22 June (BelTA) – Pragmatic economic integration is of vital importance for Europe's prosperity, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said during the plenary session of the Meeting of the CEI Ministers for Foreign Affairs in Minsk on 22 June, BelTA has learned.
“We should recognize the diversity of the countries on our continent and appreciate it. Even though sometimes it creates obstacles on the way to political consensus, this diversity is a wonderful opportunity for trade, innovations, and economic development. Economy remains the main element linking our countries and the cornerstone of the European integration,” Vladimir Makei emphasized.
The minister noted that the achievements of the past 25 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, such as free trade, harmonization of standards, and increased mobility, should not be sacrificed in pursuit of unrealistic political goals or block politics. “Pragmatic economic integration is of vital importance for ensuring the prosperity of Europe as a whole in the present-day world, in the context of increased competition on part of new centers of power and growth,” Vladimir Makei said.
He pointed out the special role of the countries of Central and South-East Europe in this process. “Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, they are frequently the first to suffer from tensions among the large geopolitical players. At the same time, from the standpoint of economy, such location is a great advantage. Belarus and other countries of our region see themselves as gateways on the key roads between the East and the West. However, one can hardly make use of this strategic location without a pragmatic dialogue, connectivity, and interaction between different integration processes on our continent,” the minister noted.
Vladimir Makei emphasized that today the CEI member states take part in different integration formats and organizations, including the European Union, the Visegrad Group, the Regional Cooperation Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “Our countries also participate in important diplomatic initiatives, such as the Berlin Process, the Eastern Partnership, the Belt and Road initiative, and the cooperation between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Belarus is the only CEI member state that is also a co-founder of the Eurasian Economic Union. These factors give the CEI the potential to serve as a link connecting all these different integration processes,” the minister noted.
According to Vladimir Makei, this is the reason why Belarus chose “Promoting connectivity and interoperability among various integration processes in a Wider Europe” as the main theme of its CEI presidency. This theme reflects various aspects of interoperability which are important not only for the CEI but also for other integration formats. Above all, this involves the development of key infrastructure links in the CEI region keeping in mind such strategic initiatives as the Trans-European Transport Network and the Belt and Road initiative. “In this context, we need to expand cooperation of the CEI with the international financial institutions, including the EBRD, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and the Asian infrastructure funds. At the same time, we need to work on procedural bottlenecks so that we could make full use of the existing infrastructure. This applies to the harmonization of the trade-related standards, digitalization of the procedures and services, promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation along the key transport corridors,” Vladimir Makei said.