Meeting with CEI ministers of foreign affairs

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The member states of the Central European Initiative (CEI) should develop cooperation between various integration associations on the continent, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs and heads of national delegations of the member states of the Central European Initiative on 22 June.

“The foreign policy of our country has a multi-vector and peaceful nature. We are committed to building friendly, mutually beneficial relations with all states. It is equally important for our country to develop cooperation with the East and the West without making an artificial choice between them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

However, the President said that there are certain powers which do not give up on attempts to restore the block policy of the past. “As the representatives of the states of Central and Eastern Europe, we realize that it can have devastating and catastrophic consequences,” the Belarusian leader said.

The today’s date, 22 June, reminds us about it. Seventy-six years ago Belarus faced a severe blow of the Nazis. On 22 June, a new bloody stage in the Second World War began. Tens of millions of Europeans, including one third of the Belarusian population, died in that war. “I think that the historical memory makes us value peace and wellbeing,” the head of state emphasized.

The existing realities are as follows: countries located between Europe and Asia should take on more responsibility in ensuring regional stability. “Besides, these efforts do not require big financing. It largely depends on us if our countries will become a dividing line between the world centers of power or a link between them. Now it is not needed to erect new iron curtains, it is essential to join efforts to build bridges between various integration associations on the continent,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

Only with the help of equal dialogue and comprehensive economic cooperation we can create a truly Wider Europe guaranteeing peace, security and prosperity for our descendants, the head of state said. “The Central European Initiative should be aimed at resolving this complicated task,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

The President remarked that since the very first days of its existence the organization had been committed to developing mutually beneficial economic ties between European countries after the Cold War. Over a quarter of a century the CEI has proven to be a good venue for dialogue on a wide range of issues. First of all, this pertains to such fields as transport, energy sector, regional development, science and technology. A lot is being done for education and culture.

“At present this organization unites countries partaking in various integration associations and formats. We must use this factor in full. That is why Belarus’ presidency is aimed at promoting connectivity in a Wider Europe,” Aleksandr Lukashenko explained. “Being at the crossroads of Eurasia, our countries face similar difficulties in their social and economic development. At the same time, it opens up big opportunities for the expansion of trade and enhancement of ties in other areas.”

According to the head of state, Belarus’ presidency should give momentum to the extensive discussion of issues which should be resolved for the full realization of the economic potential of countries in the region. “These include the synchronization of plans to expand the transport infrastructure, the harmonization of standards and procedures for accelerating trade flows, the development of logistic services. I would like this meeting in Minsk to help us address such issues,” he said.

The President added that Belarus views its presidency in the organization as a unique opportunity for the country to effectively engage in the European integration processes. “It is important that the CEI cooperates closely with the European Union, participates in its various programs and projects, including the regional development strategy. We see this as an additional opportunity to improve understanding with the European Union through practical cooperation,” he noted.

Besides, Belarus believes that its CEI presidency is a great chance to step up the interaction with other CEI participating countries. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that some of the foreign ministers attending the meeting in Minsk will also have bilateral meetings with their Belarusian colleagues. “I very much hope that these meetings will result in concrete political and economic agreements,” the head of state stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko called for sincere and open conversation and stressed that he is ready to listen to all the proposals and concerns. In his opinion, it is very important not to give up on these problems, to discuss them and look for solutions.

At the meeting the diplomats discussed the most urgent problems emerging in the European region, wanted to know the president’s opinion on all topical issues and his evaluation of current events.

In particular, the participants of the meeting discussed the war on terrorism, the migration situation, and the conflict in Ukraine. Speaking about the latter topic, the ministers of foreign affairs emphasized the role of the Minsk venue in the regulation of the crisis in Ukraine. They agreed that it does not have analogues today.

The ministers also remarked that the European Union now faces difficulties, therefore the uniting role of various integration associations and particular countries, including Belarus, is extremely important.

In this context, it was mentioned that Belarus takes a proactive position during its presidency in the CEI and is doing its best to bolster its activities.