Belarus FM outlines country’s foreign policy

The foreign minister of Belarus, Vladimir Makei, has said that the country continues to view Russia as its most important ally in the international political sphere but is interested in a “cautious rapprochement” of relations with the European Union, Belarusian state news agency Belta has reported.

Speaking in an interview with German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Mr Makei stated that the ongoing geopolitical disputes between Russia and the EU, as well as the sanctions and counter-sanctions the two powers have imposed on each other “hurt us tremendously as we are an open and export-oriented country.” He added that the Belarusian government wants to diversify its relations and views the European bloc as its “second most important partner.”

Discussing the crisis in Ukraine, the Belarusian FM said that “part of the blame is with the EU, which in the past tried to attach Ukraine as fast as possible.” While he said that Ukraine’s EU aspirations were understandable, he emphasised that Belarus “would never act in the same way.”

“We do not want to make the same mistakes as Ukraine did,” he said, arguing for “cautious” and “closer engagement” with the EU.

“We used to have issues caused by the EU’s sanctions. We also faced problems with our Russian partners. These problems revolved around supplies of gas, oil, sugar,” Belta quoted him as saying, pointing to China which the Belarusian government views as “a strategic partner.”