Normalisation between Belarus and the West is ongoing setting new rapprochement milestones
Foreign Minister Makey’s visit to Latvia was a major western foreign policy event last week. On July 19th – 20th, Makey held talks with the Latvian Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister and a Deputy Chairman of the Parliament with the primary focus on trade and economic cooperation. In addition, Makey visited several Latvian enterprises engaged in the construction of production and real estate facilities, maintenance of aviation equipment, information and communication technologies.
In his statements during the visit, the Foreign Minister mentioned Belarus’ stance in respect to stepped up NATO activity. According to Makey, Belarus would monitor NATO's actions and take them into account in shaping her military policy, however she would “act carefully” not to promote tension in the region. In addition, he reiterated the assurances that Belarus would not deploy foreign military bases. He also announced the preparation for the President Lukashenka’s visit to Riga.
After the US statement about the withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear programme, Belarus and the EU have found yet another common interest. On July 16th, during the meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Dapkunas and Head of the EU Delegation in Belarus Andrea Victorin, the parties reiterated their commitment to a joint comprehensive action plan on the Iranian nuclear programme and marked its importance in preserving peace and security in the region. Earlier, the Foreign Ministry held consultations with the EU ambassadors on this matter. Interestingly, official reports about consultations between Minsk and Brussels on this matter mentioned neither the US withdrawal from the programme nor sanctions against Iran, which could point to Belarus’ desire to retain good relations with all parties to the conflict.
Belarus acts in line with the normalisation policy in relations with the West, focusing primarily on trade and economic relations. That said, Minsk did not shy away from discussing “painful” political issues (for example, the Dialogue on Human Rights with the EU), however, significant steps in this direction are unlikely.