Makei during Munich Security Conference: Attitude to Belarus is changing


Makei during Munich Security Conference: Attitude to Belarus is changing

The Belarusian delegation led by Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei held a series of talks with representatives of the EU, the US and some countries of Africa within the framework of the Munich Security Conference.

Alexei Adashkin, CTV:  
The Munich conference is famous and appreciated for the possibility of holding talks not only in the main hall of the forum, but also outside it. With whom were you able to talk and discuss something?

Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
Yes, indeed, in addition to the discussions that take place, as you said, in the main forum hall, this venue is a unique opportunity for holding bilateral meetings. Everyone knows about this, and that is why the Munich Conference on Security is very popular among political, military, economic figures of various countries.

Within the short one-and-a-half-day stay here in Munich we also had a number of meetings. In particular, we met with new representatives of the office of German Chancellery that is responsible for foreign policy. Taking into account the personnel reshuffles that took place in that department, we found absolutely unambiguous mutual understanding and agreed to continue that constructive dialogue that we had with the former leadership of this department and with those people who are responsible for foreign policy.

In addition, we met with the leaders of a number of German companies interested in cooperation with Belarus. We met with the head of the Eastern Committee of the German Economy, Mr. Büchele. During the meeting, the results of trade and economic cooperation between our countries over the past two years were summed up and we determined what should be done in the near future in order to give it a new impetus. We agreed that we will take - and we already have concrete proposals - a number of measures that will promote more active trade and economic cooperation between our countries.

We held a number of bilateral meetings with foreign ministers, in particular, Egypt, Sudan, with whom we analyzed the results of the implementation of the agreements reached during the Belarus President's visit to these countries and agreed on contacts at various levels, including at the highest level, for the near future. We are waiting for the visits of the leaders of these states and agreed on what kind of work should be done in order for these visits to be eventful and productive.

They also met with representatives of the European Union who are concerned with the policy of good-neighborliness and who are responsible for cooperation with Belarus, in particular, with European Commissioner Hahn, with Mrs. Helga Schmid, who is a long-standing partner of Belarus, and also agreed on specific specific events for the future.

And, of course, we could not ignore the problem that concerns us today - issues related to the situation in Ukraine. We asked for a meeting, and it was held, with the US Special Envoy for Ukraine, Mr. Volker, we exchanged views on the situation in the region and expressed views on what steps could be taken to reduce tensions in this region. 

SEE: Belarus wants Donbass conflict to end as soon as possible

Alexei Adashkin:
The issue of bringing peacekeepers to the southeast of Ukraine... This subject was discussed a lot, including the participation of Belarusian servicemen in this operation. How does Belarus see such a mission?

Vladimir Makei:

You know that the President of Belarus announced that the Belarusian peacekeepers could enter the region back in October 2014. Unfortunately, then this initiative was not heard or not fully heard. It was unacceptable for all parties for various reasons.

After a while, they returned to this idea, but time was lost and, unfortunately, now, of course, to realize this initiative is much more difficult than it was back then.

But, as we know, in September 2017, the Russian president proposed to deploy UN peacekeepers on the separation line. The Ukrainian side made suggestions on how it sees this idea of ​​deploying peacekeepers in the region. We see now that there are great differences in the positions of the parties. Therefore, the task is to bring these positions closer, to find some kind of compromise solution. This is exactly what we were talking about with the US representative.

As for the position of Belarus, we are ready to participate in any projects, proposals, in the implementation of any ideas that will help reduce tensions in this region and will be able to resolve this crisis once and for all. Therefore, one can only confirm the readiness of Belarus to participate in any kind of possible direction of the peacekeeping contingent to this region if all parties agree on this issue and if this is acceptable to all parties involved in this conflict.

Alexei Adashkin:
Every year the forecasts of the experts of the Munich Conference are increasingly gloomy and against this background, perhaps, the Belarusian initiative on launching the Helsinki 2 process is becoming more relevant. The world on the brink of the abyss - that's what everyone here is talking about at this conference...

Vladimir Makei:
And the report which was prepared on the eve of the conference says that the level of tension, the level of confrontation in the region has not decreased. We, being on this geopolitical gap between East and West, being, as I say sometimes, between two fires, in the current conditions when there are sanctions between Russia and the European Union, we feel this on ourselves, probably like no one else. Because we suffer in economic, political and other areas. But for us this is the main goal, the main task, the most important problem is to help in every way to reduce this tension, reduce this confrontation.

This is exactly what the Belarusian head of state was guided by when he suggested starting a discussion on this issue.

This does not mean that we intend to cancel Helsinki 1 and start from scratch, to create from scratch a new building, a new Helsinki treaty. Far from that.

Everything that was done before must be preserved, but in view of the new challenges that have emerged today (and there are a huge number of them), given the clearly visible tendency of growing tension and the growth of a new arms race, it is necessary to sit down at the negotiating table, discuss the situation, to define "red lines", as diplomats say: the lines which cannot be passed. We need to identify the problems that are dangerous for all mankind, for our region, in particular, and try to find compatibility points when discussing these problems and, possibly, a point of compatibility that will help us resolve out to major issues.

That's the idea, it's simple, but it's very important. I think maybe we should not say that it will be namely Helsinki 2 and nothing else, but it's important to start a discussion that would allow us to come to some more understanding, to an understanding that is absolutely not there today. This is indicated even by the content of the discussion during the current Munich Conference.   

Alexei Adashkin:
You also met here with the Chairman of the Munich conference Wolfgang Ischinger - maybe you managed to agree on holding a separate event within the framework of this forum or some other forum gathered by the organizers of the Munich conference?

Vladimir Makei:
Yes, we met with Mr. Ischinger, who has managed this conference and events in the framework of this conference since 2009. I must say that in my understanding this is one of the most outstanding and talented diplomats, who has done a lot to find solutions to the most difficult problems, to seek compromise solutions to the most difficult problems, and I believe that he succeeded in this.

SEE: Belarus to host Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting in 2018?

We also discussed the course of the current Munich Conference on Security and discussed possible mutual events for the future.

Mr. Ischinger and his secretariat suggested holding a meeting of the so-called Core Group of the Munich Security Conference in Belarus in October 2018.

This is a meeting of prominent leaders, politicians, statesmen in a closed format - about 70-80 people. They gather and discuss the most urgent and exciting issues at the moment.

Why Belarus? As I understand it, today Belarus is a place where people from different conflicting regions can be gathered, and I am convinced that this meeting, if it takes place on the Belarusian land, will also contribute to reducing the tensions, the confrontation that is, unfortunately, present in our region today.

Alexei Adashkin:
Next year Belarus hosts the second European Games. In your opinion, can we count on the assistance of partners, including from the West, in terms of ensuring security? Here in Munich, this is especially true, because during the 1972 Olympics, there was an infamous terrorist attack about which we still remember.

Vladimir Makei:
Security issues, especially during this kind of major sporting events, are of course very important, and I think that here we can count on the help of all our partners - European partners and more distant overseas partners. By the way, during the World Hockey Championship in 2014 in Minsk, we cooperated with both NATO representatives and the USA on these issues.

Therefore, I am convinced that if necessary, we will find understanding on these issues related to ensuring security during such major sporting events.

Alexei Adashkin:
This conference is a platform for informal talks, but in general, if we sum up the results for Belarus, how did the 54th security conference end, what is the main result, in your opinion?

Vladimir Makei:
I cannot say that we will bring from here a bag of what can be assessed in concrete material and financial terms. At the same time, participation in such kind of events, from my point of view, is very important. Why? Because, firstly, you learn a lot about the position of other states, about the position of the leaders of other states on the most exciting topical issues. Secondly, here, during this conference there is a unique opportunity to bring your point of view to a huge number of participants of this conference from various countries, almost from all over the world. This is very important.

This platform is also an opportunity for bilateral meetings in order to discuss the exciting issues in a 'narrow' format and solve some specific problems, which we did at this stage.

And you know, it is very important to have an understanding of the events around you. When you sit in the hall, when you take part in the discussions - it is very important to have a greater understanding of how Europe wants to develop, where we are all heading, what Europe is afraid of and so on.

We see today that, unfortunately, less attention was paid at this conference to the urgent problems that humanity faces today.

This is the fight against terrorism - yes, it was said about it, but somehow casually. This is illegal migration, it is also fight against climate change and so on. But it seems to me that for some reason the participants, especially from European countries, were more concerned with the development of security relations between the European Union and NATO, whom NATO should protect, and who should be protected by the European Union. I mean in terms of defense. This was the subject of most of discussions.

Unfortunately, I had the impression that so far we have not been able to escape from this confrontational logic, the logic of confrontational thinking. It seemed surprising to me that one of the high-ranking participants of this conference, justifying the fact that NATO obliged all countries to increase military spending, cited Trotsky's expression that "if Europe does not deal with war issues, the war will deal with Europe". Well, is this an argument in the current situation? We must now think about how to get away from this dangerous prospect of the beginning of a new round of armaments, a new arms race, but we argue using some old categories and concepts... It should not be done. 

Alexei Adashkin:
This is not your first such conference. Do you feel the attitude towards Belarus is changing somehow, towards the Belarusian delegation, towards the initiatives of our country as a whole?

Vladimir Makei:
Let's just say that everything in the world must change and everything changes; I remember, we were taught dialectics in university.

Seriously, the attitude towards Belarus is changing, because, thank God, our partners are moving away from the black-and-white understanding the situation inside and around Belarus. We are making a very great contribution to the stability and security in Europe. We intend to continue to do so in the future.

Yes, there are some things that our partners do not agree with, they would like us to improve the situation in some spheres a little. But this is a matter of normal negotiations and discussions. We are ready for such an open and frank dialogue.

In general, I want to say that now, at this stage, there seems to be more understanding on the part of all our foreign partners about what Belarus is like, what is happening in Belarus and how and where we should move forward. But, I repeat, there remain a number of issues that we should pay attention to, and we are talking about this to our partners in the course of an open and frank dialogue that is taking place between us.