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Opinions & Interviews

28 Oct 2015

Makei: Belarus is truly interested in peace and stability in the region

MINSK, 28 October (BelTA) – Belarus is sincerely interested in the establishment of peace and stability in the region, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said in an interview to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, BelTA informs.

When asked on the Ukrainian conflict, Vladimir Makei noted: “We have never tried to play to some party in order to damage the other. We are truly interested in peace and stability returning to our region, but not to the detriment of our relations with Russia. It may sound as a beaten phrase but three brotherly nations have lived together for centuries. And today it hurts to see this acute tension in the region, including between the two brotherly peoples. If two brothers have an argument, there should be a third party who will make efforts to reconcile them. Here, we have not just been playing the role of a mediator, but have been doing our best to help the people of Ukraine, including Donbass, to live in peace.”

According to the minister, the European Union for Belarus is the second main trade and economic partner after Russia. “Our aspiration to have good relations with the EU can be explained by a simple wish to have normal trade and economic relations. Our economy is export-oriented. We have to sell up to 60-70% of the country’s output abroad and we are interested in markets. However, we will never do it at the expense of or to the detriment of Russia. It would be immediately evident if we tried to agree with Europe, bypassing Moscow and infridging its interests. We have never made such decisions,” the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs said.

Vladimir Makei stated: “The European Union has understood that Belarus is not a puppet in someone’s hands, but an independent state with its policy based on national interests. Of course, the recent combination of circumstances has also helped the EU see clearly the motives Belarus applies in adopting these or those foreign and domestic political decisions.”

“We do not have any rosy expectations that all the doors will open tomorrow and the European Union will welcome Belarus with open arms. However, there is a tendency towards the normalization of relations,” Vladimir Makei noted.

Apart from that, the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the placing of a Russian airbase in the country would not help to lower military and political tensions in the region. “Conversely, the airbase will lead to irritation towards both Minsk and Moscow. Besides, Belarus has enough airbases to deploy hundreds of aircraft in a matter of hours. What is more important for us at present is to discuss the readiness to give a rapid response in case of increasing tensions in the region or a threat to the security of Belarus and Russia,” said the minister. Vladimir Makei added that on 27 October the joint board of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and Russia did not discuss the placing of a Russian airbase in the country.

Vladimir Makei was also asked to comment on the situation in Syria. The minister said that Belarus supports Russia’s counterterrorism campaign in this Middle Eastern country. “Russia is taking on a really tough challenge there, which is terrorism that poses a threat to the whole humankind. It is a common goal and it is impossible to achieve it without the efforts of all the states. We were surprised that Russia was not invited into the Western coalition when it was set up. Now we see that Russia has made its conclusions from the Libyan history and, let us say, decided to act in Syria, in full compliance with international law,” said the minister.

Vladimir Makei added that Belarus had always spoken in favor of normalizing the situation in Syria through a domestic political dialogue with the participation of incumbent President Bashar Assad. “In February 2015 I paid an official visit to Syria and held a meeting with Bashar Assad. Then he stated that he was ready for such a dialogue. At the same time we can state unambiguously that there is foreign interference in Syria. Otherwise, the situation in the country would have been back to normal long time ago,” Vladimir Makei added.

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