MINSK, 20 July (BelTA) - Belarus is not planning to close any of its foreign missions in a EU country anytime soon, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei told the media, BelTA has learned.
Commenting on the meeting on the current foreign policy priorities, the minister noted that it was not about the need to close embassies in a particular country or reduce their number right now. Vladimir Makei recalled that the president hosted a meeting on ways to optimize foreign missions early this year. Decisions were made back then and they are now being executed.
“Today's meeting was about the development of the situation in terms of further sanctions confrontation between Belarus and the so-called collective West. We keep your eyes on the ball and, of course, we will be watching. If we see that we do not have a clear concrete perspective in terms of trade and economic cooperation with a particular country, then we will submit appropriate proposals to the government and the president,” the minister said.
“For the time being, we are not planning to close any of our embassies in a this or that EU country any time soon. Of course, we will monitor the situation. We believe that the EU can be a normal partner for Belarus, but we need to return to those reasonable principles of coexistence, which were in place some time ago,” the minister added.
Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko spoke against any abrupt steps. “Today, let's say our relations with this or that state have cooled down, which means we need to reduce the embassy staff to a minimum. I am not talking about some aggressive cynical actions like in the case with Lithuania, which in principle might be a reason to severe diplomatic relations. We are against such abrupt steps. Therefore, if it is not related to this kind of deliberate actions, I am not in favor of any abrupt changes,” he said.
According to the prime minister, there is a coordinated approach to this issue: "Following the president's instruction, we will make a well-coordinated decision to optimize both the network of Belarusian embassies and the central office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its internal structure by the end of the year. The decision will be based on our interests in the new reality, and the development of relations between the EU and Belarus.
“Policies of other countries might also undergo dramatic changes. This is why we will not make any abrupt decisions. Decisions will be well-coordinated,” Roman Golovchenko said.
BelTA reported earlier that at the meeting to discuss Belarus' current foreign policy priorities on 20 July, the Belarusian head of state instructed Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko and Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Sergeyenko to analyze the performance of Belarusian diplomatic missions in Europe. “We should carefully examine the work of our diplomatic missions in Europe. Being a former diplomat [Roman Golovchenko], you know this firsthand. Listen, why do we need a lot of diplomats in the countries with which we don't trade at all and with which political relations, diplomacy are non-existent, and even detrimental to our state,” the president said.
“If we need an ambassador and an assistant, well, keep them there, rent them a two-room apartment and let them work. If things [cooperation] get off the ground we will send more people there. We need to be pragmatic in this matter,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the optimization of Belarusian diplomatic missions has recently begun, but this process is making little headway. “Why are we swaggering and trying to inflate these diplomatic missions? We have recently launched this process, but it is rather slack, as if someone wants to hold it back,” the Belarusian president said.