Belarus actively interacts with the West, yet key agreements have not been signed
The past week was full of contacts and events in the western policy direction, however, without concrete results.
On December 6th – 7th, a Belarusian delegation led by Foreign Minister Makey participated in the 25th meeting of the OSCE Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (COM). During his speech, Makey urged to abandon the establishment of new military presences, “pumping” the region with lethal weapons, spoke in support for measures to increase military transparency and recalled the idea of launching the Minsk process (dialogue on international security).
Along the margins of the event, Vladimir Makey met with NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller to discuss further dialogue with the Alliance.
On December 5th – 7th, Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Kravchenko made a working visit to Vienna to participate in the annual conference of the EU Eastern Partnership Initiative. He met with European Commissioner Khan, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria Karin Kneissl and other officials and think-tanks representatives. In addition to bilateral Belarusian-Austrian relations, Kravchenko discussed Belarus’ relations with the European Union, since Austria is holding the EU presidency and has some influence on the formation of the EU agenda.
On December 7th, the 13th meeting of the Belarusian-Polish intergovernmental commission on cross-border cooperation was held in Minsk. The participants discussed the modernization of cross-border infrastructure and the implementation of projects within the Cross-Border Cooperation Program "Poland-Belarus-Ukraine 2014-2020". During the meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Shestakov stated that support from Polish partners was important for Belarus in raising European funds for implementing projects, including on cross-border cooperation. According to him, Belarus was counting on Poland’s support in negotiations with the EU on visa facilitation.
Overall, Minsk further focused on developing relations with both, EU bodies and individual member states, in order to convey its position and advance in the normalization process. The terms and conditions for signing agreements on visa facilitation and partnership priorities with the EU would indicate this approach’s efficiency.