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Makei calls for urgent action to end conflict in Ukraine

Politics 02.01.2019 | 09:26
Vladimir Makei. An archive photo
Vladimir Makei. An archive photo

MINSK, 2 January (BelTA) – Urgent action is needed to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said in an interview with NHK, Japan's broadcasting organization, on 19 December, BelTA has learned from the website of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We believe that the conflict in Ukraine is a major threat to European regional security today. It is necessary to resolve it as soon as possible. We are trying to play our part. As the Belarusian head of state says, we are not forcing ourselves as intermediaries, but we are trying to do our best to settle this conflict,” Vladimir Makei said.

The Normandy Format meeting in Minsk in February 2015 put an end to the high-intensity hostilities in the east of Ukraine. Belarus arranges regular meetings of the OSCE Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine. The sessions of this group are held two times a month in Minsk. “We maintain regular contacts, including highest-level contacts, with the both sides trying to persuade them to find common ground and ways to re-engage with each other in order to stop this military confrontation and resume peace and stability in the east of Ukraine,” the minister added.

The president of Belarus put forward several initiatives. Back in 2014 he offered his services related to greater involvement of Belarus in the conflict resolution. In particular, he suggested sending an armed peacekeeping force from Belarus to maintain control on the Russian-Ukrainian border and the border between the east and the other part of Ukraine. He meant that such border control should be done together with other states.

According to Vladimir Makei, Belarus wants all the parties to demonstrate sincere interest in resolving and settling this conflict. No one should try to get any political or other dividends in this situation, because it will not do any good, he is convinced.

“Taking into consideration that we have an open economy (Belarus sells 60-70% of its output), we greatly depend on external markets. Therefore, we want peace and stability in our region and in other regions, as this would enable us to trade and operate efficiently on these markets. Therefore, the underlying principle of our foreign policy is making this confrontation go away,” the minister noted.

He added that it was the reason why the Belarusian president came forward with an idea of a so-called comprehensive dialogue that would bring all the parties of the conflict to the negotiating table. Instead of resolving their disputes on a battlefield, they would discuss ways to combat more urgent global challenges and threats, like terrorism and cyberterrorism, human trafficking, international crime and many more. We believe that a dialogue, a uniting, not dividing international agenda, is the only way to achieve peace and tranquility in our region and in the world.

During the interview Vladimir Makei also touched upon Belarus-Russia relations. The foreign minister noted that Belarus and Russia maintain close cooperation across all the fields. “We are allies that cooperate in the military field, in politics, in trade and economy and in the humanitarian field. We have achieved a lot as part of the Union State founded in 1999. I believe that the major achievement is equal rights for the citizens of Belarus and Russia. Today Belarusian nationals do not feel like foreigners in Russia and Russians do not feel this way in Belarus, either. They can study, work, purchase real estate, get medical assistance, etc. Therefore, Belarus and Russia have truly brotherly relations,” he noted.

However, unfortunately, this does not prevent disputes and disagreements between the friendly states, the minister added. Sometimes issues arise because of superficial and artificial accounting, which is when they start calculating the contribution of each of the two parties in various areas of cooperation and try to determine who owes whom. “We proceed from the fact that we are brotherly and friendly states. Being part of the Union State and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) we should strive to create a common economic space in the EAEU that would enable free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce,” Vladimir Makei said.

“However, there is no drama about it. We are maintaining a dialogue all the time and our experience suggests that all the issues have always been settled via a sincere and open dialogue with our Russian friends. We are set to keep expanding and promoting relations with the Russian Federation. In any case, the parties will always try to find a win-win solution,” the Belarusian foreign minister is convinced. Russia and Belarus are the main trade and economic partners for each other.

At the same time, Vladimir Makei emphasized that Belarus, like any other independent state, puts its own national interests first while pursuing its foreign policy and a trade and economic policy. “Our policy is based on our own agenda. Being an independent and sovereign state, Belarus has always sought to pursue an absolutely independent foreign policy in the interests of its people,” Vladimir Makei added.

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