Minsk counts on gradual increase in political contacts with Western capitals
Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei took part in the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) and the Eastern Partnership member countries. Minsk has repeatedly emphasised its interest in pragmatic cooperation with European capitals. Amid lingering economic crisis, the Belarusian leadership has shown greater willingness to participate in the Eastern Partnership initiative. However, Minsk is rather interested in strengthening economic cooperation with the EU and gradually develop political contacts in order to avoid undue irritation in the Kremlin.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.