MINSK, 12 April (BelTA) – The upcoming optimization of the network of diplomatic missions will not affect Belarus' diplomatic presence in the world, Belarus' Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said in an interview with the Belarus 1 TV channel on 11 April, BelTA has learned.
This topic was on the agenda of a government session hosted by the president on 6 April and caused heated discussions. "The attention given to this session shows that the Belarusian diplomatic service still plays an important role. Attempts are made to undermine it in the hope that this will serve perhaps as some kind of a signal for other ministries," the minister said.
Vladimir Makei noted that sometimes some former employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say that the ministry used to have highly qualified specialists. "They imply that ‘they were those great specialists. Now that they are gone the ministry has nothing left'. I want to reassure them: our employees are highly qualified. There are young people, very intelligent, well-educated, with several university diplomas. The Belarusian diplomatic service is alive and continue to be alive," the minister stressed.
As for the optimization of foreign missions or the central apparatus, Vladimir Makei noted: this process is ongoing. "We analyze the status of our relations with certain countries. Naturally, if we see that there has been no results for several years primarily in terms of foreign economic activity, then we discuss this in the government and make an appropriate proposal to the president," he said.
“I would like to say that as a result of the optimization that we are going to undertake, our diplomatic presence will not decrease at all. On the contrary, it will expand. I have already mentioned plans for new consulates general in Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh, and Hong Kong. This is very important in terms of our presence in these markets,” Vladimir Makei said.
He noted, in general, that Belarus is a small country and cannot afford a bloated civil service. At the same time, according to some studies, Belarus has far fewer civil servants per capita than, for example, the UK, Germany or France. The same is true for the diplomatic service. “Compared to similar countries in terms of population and area, like Austria, Hungary, Sweden, we have a much smaller diplomatic service apparatus. It is about two times snaller than in Austria, three times less than in Hungary, and four times less than in Sweden,” the minister said.
“I think quality is more important than numbers. We have set up a network of about 30 embassies working in a mini-embassy format, including the head of the foreign office and two employees,” Vladimir Makei said.