Minsk aspires for deeper economic cooperation with Kyiv

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November 14, 2016 11:09
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Minsk chooses to develop economic cooperation with Ukraine while keeping low-key political contacts with Kyiv. The Belarusian leadership aims to keep some distance from the Kyiv authorities in order not to provoke tension in relations with the Kremlin, especially in foreign policy, military cooperation and on international markets. The Belarusian authorities would rather develop long-term, stable and conflict-free economic relations with Kyiv without political rapprochement.

Belarusian Vice-Premier Vladimir Semashko said that Minsk and Kyiv had agreed to remove trade barriers.

Despite the fact that Minsk and Kyiv have stepped up contacts in recent years, Belarusian-Ukrainian political relations are less intense than attempts to develop a dialogue with the European Union and the United States, or than cooperation with Moscow. In the public rhetoric, the Belarusian leadership mentions Ukraine rather rarely.

Meanwhile, both, the Belarusian and Ukrainian authorities seek to avoid possible tension in bilateral relations. For example, following a note from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, President Poroshenko initiated a telephone conversation with President Lukashenka to resolve the incident with the Belavia civil airliner.

Due to differences in foreign policy priorities and tension in Russo-Ukrainian trade relations, the Belarusian leadership is able to gain from cooperation with Kyiv. Minsk reckons that the Ukrainian market recovery will enable to reduce the export dependence on Russia and to offset the contraction of the Eurasian market for Belarusian products. In addition, the Belarusian authorities count on the interest of Ukrainian business to gain access the EEU market through cooperation with Belarus.

In sum, Minsk is likely to cooperate with Ukraine in trade and economy, while preserving modest bilateral political contacts.

 

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