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Opinions & Interviews

30 Sep 2019

Growing interest in Minsk Dialogue forum noted

Growing interest in Minsk Dialogue forum noted

MINSK, 30 September (BelTA) – The Minsk Dialogue forum “European security: Stepping back from the brink” will take place in the Belarusian capital on 7-8 October. The expert community demonstrates stronger interest in the forum every year, BelTA learned from Denis Melyantsov, program coordinator of the research and enlightenment institution Minsk Dialogue Council on International Relations.

Denis Melyantsov said: “All the top government officials have been invited, including Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko. We know our conference is already on his schedule. But taking into account the processes going in Belarus and outside it, one never knows what can distract people of that caliber. Nevertheless, we expect him to take part in it.”

The forum is expected to gather high-ranking government officials, former politicians with international experience, academic experts. Their total number is expected to exceed last year’s when the forum gathered over 500 representatives from 59 countries.

“We are going for a genuine presidential session. Former Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and former President of Croatia Stjepan Mesic are going to participate. One can say that the interest and the level [of guests and participants] rise forum after forum.”

Those who have confirmed they will participate in the forum include Director of the Eastern European Affairs Office of the U.S. Department of State Brad Freden, the former commanding officer of the United States Army Europe Ben Hodges, the former NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, the former European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

“We also look forward to the arrival of VIPs from the Russian Federation because last time for some reason many people wondered why the Russian Federation was underrepresented although there were a lot of Russian experts. Nevertheless, this time taking part in the forum will be Senator Aleksei Pushkov and the member of the State Duma Vyacheslav Nikonov,” the expert noted. Editor-in-Chief of the radio station Echo of Moscow Aleksei Venediktov will take part in a panel session.

Talking about the forum’s program, the Minsk Dialogue founder and director Yauheni Preiherman remarked that an experimental session of young leaders from the countries that determine Eastern Europe security will take place even before the official part of the forum begins. “Two days ahead of the forum they will meet to prepare a declaration of young leaders, which will be addressed to less young but very responsible political leaders,” he added.

“We’ve also asked a number of ambassadors, in particular, of the European Union, Russia, and the UK who are accredited in Minsk, and the head of the parliament’s commission on international affairs, to present their own feedback. So there will be discussions before the forum formally begins. I think they will be at least as interesting as the rest of the forum,” he continued.

Before the forum starts, the organizers intend to present an analytical report on the security situation in Belarus and outside the country, on the dominant threats in the region. “We’ve been hearing questions regarding the title of our conference. Some people wonder whether we’ve gone overboard with it. We’ve decided to prepare this report with our vision of the regional and global problems in security matters and demonstrate that we don’t want to raise tensions, that the world and Eastern Europe are indeed on the brink, particularly after some arms control mechanisms have collapsed. Processes that seem very scary to us are afoot,” Denis Melyantsov said.

A meeting of official persons will begin right after the forum is officially opened. A number of existing foreign ministers are expected to participate in it. The view of individual countries on ongoing European events will be presented. “It will be interesting to listen to France’s representative in view of the latest initiatives of France President Emmanuel Macron. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has contacted us with a request to provide enough time for them to present their vision,” the organizer noted.

Participants of the forum will be able to debate the present and future of European security and try to find mutually acceptable security standards for all. The event will gather high-ranking officials and leading experts from the European Union, Russia, the USA, China, countries of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, and Central Asia.

The Minsk Dialogue was launched as an expert initiative in early 2015. It is supposed to offer an open platform for research and discussion about international relations and security in Eastern Europe without geopolitical dividing lines. Minsk Dialogue events regularly gather international experts as well as high-ranking state figures and diplomats.

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