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Opinions & Interviews

10 May 2017

Belarus’ improving relations with West do not contradict its strategic partnership with Russia

Belarus’ improving relations with West do not contradict its strategic partnership with Russia

MINSK, 11 May (BelTA) - Belarus’ improving relations with the West do not contradict the country's strategic partnership with Russia, Belarus’ Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Oleg Kravchenko said speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, BelTA has learned.

The deputy minister stressed that Belarus is interested in improving the relations with the West, both the European Union and the United States. “We do not consider it as something going in contradiction to our relations with Russia. For many reasons they [Belarusian-Russian relations] are strategic and very close partnership. We are interested in these relations to continue,” said Oleg Kravchenko.

The diplomat named the discussions of the dilemma for Belarus to choose between West and East as counter-productive. “We believe that both are possible. Belarus is seeking bigger volumes of trade, investment and cooperation in every area with the western countries. I am convinced this is possible without any damage to our relations with Russia,” he stressed.

Speaking about the Belarusian-American agenda, Oleg Kravchenko said that human rights and democracy are the top issues in the dialogue with the U.S. Department of State. He added, however, that these are not the only issues on the bilateral agenda. Cooperation in the area of security, global and regional issues are also among the keystones in Belarus' mutual relations with the United States. “These relations were launched the day Belarus declared its independence and renounced nuclear weapons. This was our step of contribution to the global security,” Oleg Kravchenko said.

Belarus also joined the IAEA agreements to guarantee the use of nuclear materials solely for peaceful purposes.

Another example of cooperation with the United States on the global agenda was the possibility provided by Belarus to transit cargoes for the American troops in Afghanistan. “When America needed help, we provided it. We have never attempted to trade something in return and have never spoken about it in public. This is our stance: when it comes to strategic and security matters, our cooperation should not depend on temporary political disagreements,” the deputy minister said.

Oleg Kravchenko added that there are examples of efficient cooperation between the law enforcement bodies of Belarus and the United States.

Speaking about the major geopolitical and security challenges for Belarus, the deputy minister took note of the increasing tensions in the European region. Besides, Belarus is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and the tragic events that have been taking place there. He reiterated the absence of an alternative to the Minsk agreements.

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