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14 Feb 2017

CEI presidency viewed as recognition of Belarus’ foreign policy by European countries

MINSK, 14 February (BelTA) – Belarus views its presidency of the Central European Initiative (CEI) as a recognition of its foreign policy by European countries, Natalia Zhilevich, Ambassador-at-Large at the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, national coordinator for cooperation with the CEI, told reporters on 14 February.

“Belarus heads a European regional organization outside the post-Soviet space for the first time over the years of independence. This is why we view our CEI presidency, on the one hand, as a considerable achievement of our foreign policy, and on the other, as a recognition of the achievements of our foreign policy by the European countries,” Natalia Zhilevich said.

She noted that during its CEI presidency, Belarus plans to focus on ways to strengthen the ties connecting the countries of Europe in the CEI region. “This is not about creating and strengthening ties for the sake of ties, but rather about promoting the sustainable economic development in our region,” Natalia Zhilevich explained.

The CEI reform is another area of focus. “We are reviewing some of the fundamental documents of the organization. We have a very ambitious goal: to prepare, by the end of the Belarusian presidency, at least the first draft of the rules of procedure (a set of rules that the countries are guided by as members of the CEI – note by BelTA) for consideration by the heads of government,” Natalia Zhilevich said.

As for Belarus’ expectations about the CEI presidency, the diplomat said: “I am not inclined to think that a trade-focused approach pays off in international politics. But if we put the question this way, then let's take a look from a different angle: what can we give to Europe, to the CEI, and the international community? I think that we can give a lot. Our country has accumulated extensive experience in working in international organizations. We have talented people. We can do many things, and do them well,” she said.

Natalia Zhilevich stressed that the CEI presidency confirms the positive image of Belarus in the international arena. This will help attract investments to the country, step up collaboration with traditional partners and new ones, and boost the economic development.

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