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Opinions & Interviews

4 Jun 2019

Belarus pushes for EaP vision as flexible tool for reducing confrontation

Belarus pushes for EaP vision as flexible tool for reducing confrontation

MINSK, 4 June (BelTA) – Belarus takes persistent steps to promote its initial vision of the Eastern Partnership Initiative (EaP) as a pragmatic and flexible tool for cooperation and for reducing confrontation. Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei made the relevant statement during the conference “Eastern Partnership at 10: Results and ways forward” on 4 June, BelTA has learned.

Vladimir Makei said: “We persistently promote our initial vision of the Eastern Partnership as a pragmatic, equal, and flexible tool for cooperation, a means to reduce confrontation, build up trust and blur dividing lines. In conditions of regional tensions in this period of history this vision coincides a lot with perceptions of the European Union.”

“Multiple meetings at various international venues in EaP countries as well as Brussels, European Union member states in 2018 and 2019 were dedicated to results achieved in the first decade of the Eastern Partnership Initiative,” Vladimir Makei said.

“In most cases the Eastern Partnership Initiative is perceived simply as some arithmetic sum of accomplishments and failures in relations of the partner countries with the European Union without taking into account regional context. We would love things to be exactly like that. We would love the Eastern Partnership Initiative to be a purely technical project without any politics,” Vladimir Makei noted. “However, in reality Belarus just like other neighbors of the European Union has to look at the Eastern Partnership Initiative from the geopolitical point of view. Physics tells us that any action causes reaction. We, people who live here, understand well (maybe even better that some politicians in Brussels) that the system of mutual relations in our region is a tangle of multidirectional active and reactive forces. It has always been like that. The Eastern Partnership Initiative did not appear in vacuum ten years ago. It appeared in conditions of an existing combination of forces, the level of trust, interaction between various entities. Whether it was intended or not, but the initiative most seriously influenced this equation.”

Vladimir Makei talked about the initiative’s results concerning Belarus and other participating states. He presented a vision of the Eastern Partnership Initiative’s place in the context of Belarus’ relations with the West and the East.

In his opinion, the last few years of the Eastern Partnership Initiative’s existence are of top importance. In 2014 the conflict between eastern and western orientations in the region – a conflict Belarus deems absolutely far-fetched, artificial, and inflicted from the outside – resulted in a crisis in Ukraine, which has not been resolved even now, Vladimir Makei said. The signing of agreements on association with three neighbors of the European Union and armed hostilities in Donbass have prompted corrections in the Eastern Partnership Initiative’s logic. The initiative is no longer geared towards political approximation and economic integration of all the partner states using the same molds but towards enhancing the sovereignty and stimulating economic development of every participating state depending on their individual preferences.

Vladimir Makei stated: “It has been recognized that the Eastern Partnership Initiative should be adapted to interests of all the neighboring countries, including those unwilling to get integrated into the European Union. Encouraging cooperation between these countries is now a priority. It has been stated that the European Union does not force its neighbors to choose between their geopolitical partners.” According to Vladimir Makei, Belarus wholeheartedly approves of this idea since it is the cornerstone of the national doctrine on state development.

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