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24 Oct 2017

Artificial hype around Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017

MINSK, 24 October (BelTA) – The hype surrounding the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 was absolutely artificial. Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei made the statement in an interview with the Financial Times, BelTA has learned.

Vladimir Makei said: “From my personal point of view, the hype surrounding the army exercise was absolutely artificial. Since the very start we’d been telling our partners that the army exercise would be as transparent as possible. And it was just the way we said it would be.”

Vladimir Makei underlined that Belarus would like to make its own contribution to peace and stability in Europe because the country has suffered a lot in the past, during world wars.

“At the very start our president stated that we will invite the maximum number of observers. We invited 85 military observers from neighboring countries, various international organizations, including the OSCE and NATO. We held briefings in the OSCE HQ and the NATO HQ. More than 270 foreign reporters helped cover the army exercise. It was not a problem for us,” he noted.

“But since individual politicians and countries take a dim view of Russia due to some problems in their relations, an information warfare campaign against the Zapad 2017 army exercise was launched as a result,” believes Vladimir Makei.

Vladimir Makei pointed out that Belarus had repeatedly stated at the top level that it would never start a war and never threatened neighbors or other countries. “We don’t want to scare anyone. We would like to make our own contribution to peace and prosperity in Europe. By the way, it was the Belarus president who had come up with the idea to launch a new round of talks within the framework of the Helsinki process, the so-called Helsinki 2 process. At present the idea is unacceptable for many actors in international relations due to a bunch of reasons. However, I am convinced that the idea will be accepted sooner or later,” said Vladimir Makei.

According to the Belarusian minister of foreign affairs, this format of negotiations is necessary for avoiding confrontations between different foci of power and for discussing ways to tackle new challenges of the present day.


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