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Belarus eyes a more global future


06 Jun 2018


Global Europe
Belarus is ready to become a serious global partner whilst at the same time playing a lead role in bringing peace and stability to its region, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.
With the country’s capital city, Minsk, preparing to host the 2nd European Games next year from June 21-30, Mr Vladimir Makei said that the spotlight will be thrown on his country’s political, social and economic development, and that Belarus will be pulling out all of the stops to ensure that the world will be welcomed “with arms wide open”.
“We are in the process of introducing a 15-day visa for 80 countries which includes the EU so this will enable us to welcome everyone with arms wide open to Belarus,” said Mr. Makei. “Our President, H.E Alexander Lukashenko, as a sportsman, is paying great attention to this event which will show that we are, in fact, a modern developed country that has taken a lot of steps in the right direction.”
He added that the event will help to transform the image of Belarus which has “lived in the shadows of big states” for a long time.
“The atmosphere in our relationships with the European countries, USA and the rest of the world is changing, and at the same time we are working hard to strengthen our relationship with Russia and our neighbouring states,” he said. “But it is not possible to get a true picture about the country without visiting, so I invite (everyone) to visit Belarus because it will help to break the old vision and show the real picture of Belarus.”
The 2nd European Games will be held across 15 state-of-the-art stadia that are already in place but undergoing renovations in preparation to host 10 days of world-class action next summer.
With 6,000 athletes, coaches and officials expected from 50 countries, Mr Makei said that plans are in place to ensure that the safety and security of all visitors are a priority so that a celebration of humanity can be held in Minsk.
“Part of our DNA is that we want to live in peace and stability,” he said. “We have suffered very much in the past through the first and second world wars when our country was totally destroyed. Our cities’ infrastructure was totally destroyed.
“But the best way out of this situation and to avoid these dividing lines is through dialogue and to work with our partners to develop stronger and closer friendships that are irreversible.”
Mr Makei said that the Games will highlight the great strides that they have made in recent years and he underlined the role that his country was playing in bringing stability to the region.
He explained that Belarus has offered to contribute significantly to the proposed NATO peacekeeping mission to Ukraine and that it was continuing strong and transparent military dialogue with its neighbours and the international community to defuse regional tensions.
But he also believes that the Games will open up and strengthen trade and economic relations for Belarus which wants to be positioned as a willing partner to the world.
“Belarus is an export-oriented country that wants to trade with the world,” he said. “Currently, the EU is our second largest trading partner with 27% of our trade. Russia accounts for 51%. Our goal through diversifying our relations is to trade with the whole world and we are working hard in this field. Around 60% of goods manufactured in Belarus are exported so we rely on strong trade, economic and political relations with all of our partners.
“These relationships are extremely important to us and we are ready to continue dialogue with our partners in different fields, including sensitive issues. We are grateful to our partners for their willingness to improve this positive atmosphere in our relationship.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs added that steps in rebuilding the relationship with the USA had been implemented and that “today we can speak about our improving positive atmosphere in our relations with the United States”.
“We live in a new age. No one knows what will happen in the next two or three decades. But we belong in the European family and we would like to accept the rules to be a part of this family. 
“It is not possible to settle all of our problems immediately but we are ready to accept the new rules by moving forward cautiously to maintain the stability of society and not to move too fast.