"Minsk agreements" sounded again at a high international level. The Munich Security Conference opened on Friday. It is already 53rd in a row. For more than half a century, the political elite has gathered in the heart of Bavaria to discuss the most urgent issues. Today on the agenda, besides the Ukrainian crisis, are the fight against terrorism; West's relations with Russia; situation in Europe; Syria and, of course, the near future of NATO during the presidency of Donald Trump (and not only of NATO). The new owner of the White House did not attend the forum. Neither did Vladimir Putin. It is clear - there are too many incurable diseases today in world politics, and the first persons of the big states distance themselves from communion with one another, with the political establishment and the media, of course.
This is not the first time Putin has skipped the summit, but many wanted Trump to come. But these dreams did not come true, as the US delegation was headed by Vice-President Michael Pence. It was he who drew attention to the topic of "the Minsk agreements" on February 18.
What will be the consequences for Belarus? Our international commentator Alexei Volkov knows.
The world has entered into the most turbulent time since the Second World War. Trump's victory, fragmentation of the European Union, Syria, and finally, the Ukrainian question. The Bavarian capital has gathered hundreds of experts, heads of state and ministers to discuss these matters.
Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defence of Germany:
We, Europeans, welcome the frank statements from Washington about the security and freedom of our continent. But we must strengthen the European component of the transatlantic security.
Belarus was represented at the Munich conference by the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the Federal Republic of Germany Denis Sidorenko. He did not speak, just observed. But when we say about the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine we mean Minsk-2 agreements. Vice-President Michael Pence, who headed the US delegation, said before the talks that he would require to comply with the memorandum adopted in the Belarusian capital.
Michael Pence, Vice President of the United States of America:
Russia and others should respect the "Minsk agreements." We demand it. De-escalation of the conflict in the east of Ukraine needs to start immediately. And the United States intend to ensure that everyone complies with it.
Donald Trump, President of the United States of America:
Tomorrow they will read rants about Trump, who offends the press. You are not journalists, you and fraudsters, who invent stories about me. Hush, hush, I will not respond to your provocations. You're telling me that I'm friends with Russia. Was it not Clinton who arranged a restart with Russia and gave them the stupid plastic button? Because of it, we looked like complete idiots.
There was no room for US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the hotel and he had to stay in a resort outside the city. Presidential adviser on national security Michael Flynn was announced as a speaker at the conference, although he left the post on Monday.
And against the backdrop of the warm reception in the Old World Americans spoke on their understanding of the European security architecture. "NATO is good, but everyone must pay" was the main motive of the Washington speech.
James Mattis, United States Secretary of Defense:
If you are using NATO resources, then please make a contribution to its development. This is a fair demand and this is the price of the freedoms that we have promised to protect. Three years ago, everyone agreed with the new financing scheme of the alliance - so start implementing it.
Four battalions in the Baltic States, a group in Poland and ships in the Black Sea... The latest enlargement of NATO was aimed at the "containment of Russia". The alliance officials clearly keep in mind the concept of Ronald Reagan's "peace through strength." Yet the parties stand for dialogue. They are ready to go for what Minsk has repeatedly called for: stability in the region. War has no winners. Both sides of the political divide understand it.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:
To reduce tensions in the region is our joint task with Russia. In this regard, there are a lot of gray zones, but the strengthening of the eastern borders of the bloc and improving relations with Moscow is a priority.
Another aggravated problem is geopolitical discord inside the EU. Britain has left the European family. France, the same Spain, Italy and other countries are increasingly thinking about it.
Only Frau Merkel remained among the titans of the EU's successful 2000s. But even she is losing ground because of migration scandals. What to do with refugees? Berlin does not know.
Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany:
The number of refugees in the world is now at the level of the Second World War. This is a global problem that needs a solution. We will continue our intensive discussions, including at the conference.
Ignorance does not relieve one from responsibility. Nationalists see the only way out - to close the Schengen zone. Without it, there will be no such flows - the right camp is convinced. And this is despite the fact that European gates are secure from the East thanks to the borders of Belarus, whose guards do not allow illegals there. But the Syrian Pandora's box was opened during the "Arab Spring" and Munich has not proposed a way out of it. North Korea is exploring the legacy of Oppenheimer and the superpowers are fighting on the information battlefields. Isn't it a geopolitical recession? And, perhaps, the only thing on which the politicians agreed in Munich: the world must be saved. But everyone realizes this rescue "from its own Sequoia."