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27 May 2015

Belarus’ tighter relations with EU ‘should not interfere with cooperation with Russia’

MINSK, 27 May (BelTA) – The development of Belarus’ relations with the European Union should in no way interfere with the bilateral cooperation with Russia. Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei made the relevant statement in an interview with The Washington Post newspaper, BelTA has learned. The interview has been published by the Ministry’s website.

Asked whether Belarus can develop even tighter relations with the European Union while staying on good terms with Russia, Vladimir Makei said: “It is absolutely feasible. You know, we reject the idea of creating new dividing lines on our continent. We tell our European partners about it and, I believe, we hear proper responses. Whether we can enjoy solid good relations with the European Union or not, I am absolutely convinced that we can. We have a common history not only with Russia but with many countries, which are members of the European Union nowadays.”

“But then Belarus means something for the European Union, too,” continued the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs. “We have a common border with the European Union, about 1,250km. It is slightly shorter than the border with Russia. And we work hard to reliably protect the border. You can see that the problem of migrants in the European Union is quite a major headache these days. Belarus contributes to the alleviation of the problem. Every year we stop dozens of thousands of illegal migrants on their way from Asia to the European Union via Russia and Belarus. Together with Europe we fight against international terrorism, transboundary crime, drugs trafficking, slave trade and other negative challenges and things. I think our contribution to stability is a considerable factor for Europe. We are not the reason for a conflict. This is why we are convinced that we have perfectly good, excellent prospects for advancing cooperation with Europe in all areas.”

The Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: “Unfortunately, there are certain problems, which I think are temporary. We will surely resolve them. But the development of our relations with Europe should in no way interfere with our bilateral cooperation with Russia. We are not going to be friends with Europe at Russia’s expense or in a way detrimental to Russia.” “We are going to advance relations with Europe without damaging Russia,” Vladimir Makei made it clear.

The Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs also said that Belarus is also very important for Russia, including from the point of view of geopolitics. “Russia understands perfectly well that, frankly speaking, Europe will not be able to substitute Russia for us, not today anyway. And we understand that in difficult times we will always be together with Russia. Russia has always helped us when we encountered problems. This is why we are tightly interrelated and will support each other in difficult situations,” he said.

“We don’t think that Russia will view our advancement of normal relations with the European Union with suspicion. I think all the sides are interested in seeing an area of stability and security instead of a conflict zone, particularly in view of the Ukrainian crisis. I think all the partners are interested in the development of normal relations of Belarus with the European Union and Russia,” noted Vladimir Makei.

The official spoke against polarizing these matters. “We develop normal relations with America, Africa, and Asia. This year we have already welcomed and are going to welcome a number of high-level visits from the countries that play very important roles in their regions. This is why we are not going to stay fixated on Russia and Europe. There are a number of other important countries, with which we would like and should have normal relations, primarily trade and economic ones,” concluded the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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