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19 Jul 2017

Belarus eager to become consultative party to Antarctic Treaty

MINSK, 19 July (BelTA) – Belarus intends to get the status of a consultative party to the Antarctic Treaty, BelTA learned from Aleksei Gaidashov, head of the Belarusian Antarctic expedition, before the session of the Belarusian interagency commission on Antarctic affairs on 19 July.

According to Aleksei Gaidashov, the preparation of a package of documents to get the consultative party status for Belarus is being discussed. The matter is of strategic importance, he said. This status will allow Belarus to vote, participate in the development and adoption of decisions concerning the present and the future of Antarctica. “We will be directly involved in the regulation of activities in this promising part of the planet,” explained the head of the Belarusian Antarctic expedition.

Getting the consultative party status became possible partially thanks to the emergence of the Belarusian Antarctic station, which is still being constructed. A three-section module for communications and navigation has been erected. The installation of the second facility began during the ninth Belarusian Antarctic expedition, which returned to Belarus in June 2017. The second module is designed as a compact lab combined with residential premises.

Data collected by the ninth Belarusian Antarctic expedition is already being deciphered. The polar explorers studied the atmosphere of Antarctica, coastal waters, flora and fauna, mineral resources and raw materials. Equipment developed by Belarusian scientists was used.

Belarus could send an Antarctic expedition of its own partially thanks to the logistics support provided by Russia. A Russian ship is used to deliver members of the Belarusian expedition and materials to build the station. Vyacheslav Martyanov, head of the logistics center of the Russian Antarctic expedition, said that they would continue providing technical assistance to Belarusian expeditions within the framework of the Belarusian-Russian intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in Antarctica.

The Belarusian and Russian polar explorers cooperate in scientific research, too. According to Vyacheslav Martyanov, the possibility of using Belarusian instruments for measurements at the Russian station Vostok is under consideration. In particular, there are plans to measure ultraviolet radiation levels in Antarctica. “It is important for future space research projects. Roscosmos pays close attention to Antarctica as a model for testing engineering solutions and technologies for future space expeditions,” explained Vyacheslav Martyanov.

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