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6 Apr 2018

Foreign minister about situation around Belarus: We happened to be between two large fires

MINSK, 6 April (BelTA) – In modern conditions Belarus has turned out to be placed between two major geopolitical players, which are in a state of enmity. Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei underscored the fact in a recent interview with the Euronews TV channel, BelTA has learned.

Vladimir Makei said: “Unfortunately, today we are placed between two major geopolitical players — Russia on one side and the European Union on the other side. In other words, we are now between two large fires, which are, so to speak, in a state of enmity. We suffer due to this fact because the Belarusian economy is export-oriented. We depend on the situation on foreign markets and would like to enjoy standard trade relations with the East and the West, with the North and the South.”

In his words, Belarus suffers when Russia and the European Union enforce reciprocal sanctions and embargoes. “Russia is our key partner. We have accomplished a lot in relations with Russia. Common space stretching from Brest to Vladivostok has been created. Citizens of Belarus and Russia enjoy equal rights. Equal rights for our citizens, including the right to education, labor, some social rights and so on, are the top thing that matters,” said Vladimir Makei. “From the economic point of view we heavily depend on Russia. This is why we have to diversify relations, primarily economic ones. The European Union is our second most important economic partner after Russia.”

“We would like to stay on good terms with Russia. On the other hand, we would like to enjoy more advanced, tighter relations with the European Union. It is our goal and we are working hard to achieve it. At the same time we believe that it is impossible to ensure stability here, in Belarus without Russia or at Russia’s expense. This is why we don’t recognize questions that force us to choose between Russia or the European Union. Instead we would like to maintain good relations both with Russia and the European Union. We understand that it is our destiny, that further development of our country depends on that,” stressed the Belarusian minister of foreign affairs.

Vladimir Makei went on saying that Belarus would like to find a wise positive balance in relations with Russia and the European Union as well as other Western nations. “From time to time we run into certain problems of primarily economic nature in relations with Russia. Such problems are often artificially created yet we continue the dialogue with Russian partners and always find a solution,” noted the Belarusian minister of foreign affairs.

Vladimir Makei also made a few comments in response to statements that Western nations sometimes consider Belarus part of the Russian policy. “But I would like to make it clear that we are an independent state, a young sovereign state, and we will always act in compliance with our national interests. There is no doubt we take into account the opinion of European and Russian partners, but we will always make decisions to match our national interests. I can recall a number of occasions in the past when we took our own stance, a different stance on many debatable issues, including in relations with Ukraine and other countries in the region,” concluded the official.

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