Vladimir Makei: Belarus is not a ship drifting in any political direction

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Vladimir Makei: Belarus is not a ship drifting in any political direction

This week, much has been said about Belarusian-European relations in Brussels and in Minsk. The Belarus President held a meeting with the Foreign Ministry on the productive steps forward between Belarus and the EU. In February, the EU Council lifted most sanctions against our country. Of course, this was a good sign for collaboration in economic terms and not only. Russia remains Belarus' main trade partner but Minsk is ready to listen to pragmatic proposals of the EU.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
The level and intensity of contacts have increased and the overall atmosphere also improved. This step clearly demonstrates the readiness of the European Union and its member states to intensify pragmatic cooperation with Belarus. I emphasize: pragmatic cooperation. There's our big pragmatism out there, including and technology and cheaper financing.

The most pragmatic European businessmen skimmed the cream off joint projects with Belarusian companies even before the lifting of sanctions.

In 2015, the UK were the most active investors in Belarus. Compared with 2014, their investments in the Belarusian economy grew by almost 85% percent. They were followed by the Netherlands and Cyprus.       

Now Belarus with the European Union are restarting their relations. This computer science term describes the relationship best. By the way, the most successful joint projects are in the field of IT.

Valery Tsepkalo, Director of Administration of the High Technologies Park:
Exports of computer programs in the countries of the European Union stood at about 300 million euros. This is a serious figure. This is the factor that we cannot ignore.  

The main partner of the Park of High Technologies is the United Kingdom.

The balanced and multi-vector nature of Minsk's policy is Belarusian trump card, which helps the main players of "political solitaire" play peacefully on the European map.    

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
The EU needs exactly this kind of Belarus, with its multi-vector foreign policy, which it has pursued over the last few years. This is our fate. We found ourselves between two centers of power, and there's no getting around it. We cannot ignore either one or the other center.

Belarus is sometimes compared with Switzerland for its neutrality. For diligence and education, Belarus is compared with Germany. But there is an authentic mission of our country in Europe - to protect the eastern border of the Western civilization.

Alexander Tishchenko, spokesman for the State Border Committee of Belarus:
We arrested lots of people who were smuggling drugs and weapons. A great deal of preventive work on the identification of potential illegal migrants has been carried out. There are about 10,000 of them.

EU member Greece could not hold violators along the 11 kilometers of its sea coast, while Belarus, over for more than 20 years, has been protecting western borders that are 100 times longer. However, the official Minsk has not allowed Brussels to violate borders of diplomacy and politics. Belarus is not going to answer to EU's flirtation.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I want to stress that if our partners in the European Union or the United States put us before the choice to be either with the West or with the East, I warn you that this choice does not suit us. Russians are our brothers, regardless of whether one likes it or not. And our relationship with them should be appropriate.

The Foreign Ministry of Belarus discussed with the President the European vector just before the Brussels meeting of the Coordination Group Belarus-EU.

Later, already in Moscow, the Belarus foreign minister had to answer some tricky questions about Belarus' foreign political maneuvers.                    

Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
Belarus is not a ship drifting in any direction, not knowing its harbor. We are in the heart of Europe and we will stay here geographically. Russia is our main strategic partner and ally. But this does not mean that we should not have normal relations with other countries.

For Belarus, Russia is the main partner. The EU is Belarus' second most important trading partner. Belarus sells to the West about 1/3 of its goods. For an export-oriented country, this is vital. Nothing personal - just business relations and national interests.