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Opinions & Interviews

9 Jan 2017

Belarus can make significant contribution to CEI development

MINSK, 9 January (BelTA) – Belarus can make a significant contribution to the development of the Central European Initiative (CEI), Natalia Zhilevich, Ambassador-at-Large at the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, national coordinator for cooperation with the CEI, said in an interview with Belarus 24 TV channel.

The diplomat noted that the projects implemented as part of the CEI are multilateral. This is what this organization has been set for.

Over the years of our membership, Belarus has received 20% of the organization’s funds (which is hundreds of thousands of euros). The CEI, however, is not a development agency or a bank. It is a mechanism for partners to find each other. Over the past 25 years, Belarus has learned to find its partners, common interests and joint projects. I consider this to be our biggest achievement in cooperation with the organization,” said Natalia Zhilevich.

In her words, being an active participant of the Central European Initiative, Belarus can make a considerable contribution towards trust and security in the region, the development of transport communications, logistics and multi-state economic projects.

“Stability and security are the things that are much needed in Europe today. All the countries of the organization are concerned with what is going on: the economic crisis, migration with all its implications for the social life of individual countries, the radicalization of the society. If the organization gives us the opportunity to talk, make arrangements and create conditions for economic development (which is a precondition for security and stability), what could be more important for people?” Natalia Zhilevich said.

Natalia Zhilevich stressed that Belarus intends to develop cooperation with both Western and Eastern countries. “We need both the East and the West,” she said.

Another focus of Belarus’ CEI presidency will be the development of a dialogue between different integration platforms and initiatives, said the national coordinator.

“The CEI has started the process of reforms, on the initiative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and review of the mechanisms for its functioning. We have set an ambitious task for ourselves (I really want us to fulfill it): to agree on the proposals regarding the reforms within the CEI by the end of the year. Maybe this will be a good example for other associations and unions in Europe,” the diplomat noted.

Natalia Zhilevich is confident that Belarus’ close relations with China will be a valuable asset for the country during its presidency in the CEI. Many years of cooperation with China is an absolute achievement of Belarus’ foreign policy. This is going to be an important positive factor for our cooperation in the CEI,” she said.

In general, she added, the CEI presidency of the Republic of Belarus attests to the success of the country's foreign policy. “It is a very big achievement. At the same time it is a big responsibility for my country and the Belarusian diplomacy in particular,” Natalia Zhilevich concluded.

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