Egypt and Serbia have a role to play, each their own
Security cooperation is a part of the bilateral agenda in Belarusian – Serbian and Belarusian – Egyptian relations. However, the background of such cooperation is different and neither case is an independent factor.
On January 19th, 2020, during his visit to Egypt, Lukashenka said that the two states had a history of military-technical cooperation. Belarusian military products were widely represented at the exhibition entitled “Belarus-Egypt: Partnership for the Future”. In Cairo, Lukashenka signed a contract on establishing a joint production of Belarusian-made UAVs in Egypt worth a modest USD 1 million.
Last week, Serbian Defense Minister Vulin visited Minsk to participate in celebrations dedicated to National Army Day on February 23rd. He was the highest-ranking foreign official to participate in the celebrations. The Minister also held meetings at the State Secretariat of the Security Council of Belarus, the Defense Ministry, and the State Military Industrial Committee. For the second year in a row, Serbia remains second after Russia in terms of frequency of bilateral military events with Belarus. The Defense Ministries of both sates are planning to hold 39 events in 2020, including the first bilateral Belarusian-Serbian military exercises. The parties often emphasize full solidarity regarding international security issues and the inviolability of borders.
Minsk attaches great importance to security cooperation with Serbia and Egypt. However, it has a different meaning in each case. In the case of Belgrade, security cooperation is derived from close bilateral political relations. In the case of Cairo, bilateral security cooperation is an instrument for promoting Belarus’ trade and economic interests in Egypt and in North Africa as a whole, and a way of building trust with the ruling Egyptian leader Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. That said, in neither case, such cooperation is critical for the parties.
Belarus is not interested in being drawn in any way in either Balkan or Middle Eastern tensions, which is also a clear limitation on the further development of the bilateral security cooperation of Minsk with Cairo and Belgrade.