Minsk uses every opportunity to convey its position on the international arena
Last week, Minsk further communicated with Western states through various channels and fora. Minsk is thereby attempting to use formal and informal ties to convey its foreign policy (including on Ukraine) to the international community and keep up the image of a stability and security donor.
On March 1st, 2018, another round of Belarusian-Estonian Foreign Ministry consultations took place in Tallinn, during which Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Kravchenko discussed with his Estonian counterparts not only bilateral Belarusian-Estonian issues but also the Belarus-EU cooperation, the implementation of the Eastern Partnership Programme, interactions within international organisations and regional matters. On March 2nd, also in Tallinn, at the annual conference devoted to the Eastern Partnership, Kravchenko reiterated Belarus’ position on the need to develop the EaP in a pragmatic and non-confrontational manner and presented Belarus’ approaches to bilateral cooperation with the EU.
The conference was a high-level one, with the participation of Katarina Mathernova, the Deputy Director-General of the European Commission for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiation; Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Ivan Klimpush-Tsintsadze, Director of Eastern Europe Department of the US State Department Jorgan Andrews, Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Darius Skusevicius.
On March 2nd, 2018, Foreign Minister Makei met with the delegation of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), headed by its President John Shapiro and its Executive Director David Harris. According to the Ministry, Makei informed the meeting participants about the situation of the Jewish community in Belarus; they also discussed the opportunities for bilateral cooperation, Belarusian-American relations, and topical issues on the international agenda. It should be noted that AJC is among the most influential organisations protecting the interests of Israel and Jews around the world. Minsk could use this organisation as an intermediary in improving relations with the United States. That said, the AJC delegation arrived in Belarus after visiting Georgia and Azerbaijan, where it had meetings with the Georgian Prime Minister and the Azerbaijani President accordingly. In Minsk, however, the only high-level meeting was with the Foreign Minister.
Minsk appears to want to use formal and informal channels to retain the dynamics of normalisation with the West. Simultaneously, its activity focuses mainly on routine diplomatic communication, which is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough in relations.