Belarus – NATO Cooperation
Belarus is willing to maintain and expand constructive cooperation with NATO on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Basing on its multi-vector foreign policy and participation in international security structures, Belarus is determined to contribute to the preservation of peace and the achievement of the strategic goal – the creation of an indivisible Euro-Atlantic security.
The history of relations between Belarus and NATO began in 1992, when the country joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, which was transformed in 1997 into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council – EAPC.
In 1995, the Republic of Belarus joined the “Partnership for Peace” (PfP) programmme, viewing it as an important tool to strengthen cooperation in the political, military, economic, scientific and legal fields with NATO as a whole as well as with individual NATO members states.
In April 1998, Belarus opened its Permanent Mission to NATO in Brussels.
The main planning document of Belarus’ participation in the PfP is the annually updated Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program (IPCP). The first Individual Partnership Program with Belarus was endorsed by the NATO Council in July 1997. Since then, the number of annual joint activities under the IPCP has increased more than six fold and now stands at around 125. IPCP specifies forces and assets allocated by the Belarusian side for the benefit of the PfP, as well as a list of activities to be attended by the representatives of Belarus. Regular consultations are held with NATO International Staff and International Military Staff on the IPCP Implementation Assessment.
Belarus attaches great importance to the implementation of the IPCP as a tool for development of practical cooperation with NATO in areas such as civil emergency planning, crisis management, military education, arms control, fighting against international terrorism and transnational organized crime, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, preparation for participation in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, medical services, language training.
In 2004, Belarus acceded to the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) with the main task to develop the framework of military cooperation with NATO. Fulfillment of Partnership Goals, selected within PARP, allows gaining relevant experience in improving the training of the Armed Forces of Belarus, with the possible aim of enabling their participation in multinational peace support operations.
Within PARP, Belarus and NATO regularly exchange delegations in order to design Partnership Goals for the two-year period, and to assess their implementation.
A successful example of cooperation with the Alliance was the implementation in 2007 of a joint project by the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency and the Belarusian Ministry of Defense to destroy a stockpile of TNT landmines, as required by the Ottawa Convention, with the involvement of the financial assistance from NATO. More than 300,000 mines of such type were destroyed.
Belarusian scientific research organizations cooperate with NATO in various branches in the framework of “Science for Peace and Security” Program. Since 1993, more than 75 Belarusian scientists have received grants to conduct research and development in NATO countries. A recent example of collaboration is the project “Monitoring and forecasting of floods in the Pripyat River Basin” whose activities include installation of hydrometeorological stations and elaborating timely measures to manage the consequences of natural emergencies.
Belarus not only gains experience form NATO member states regarding the creation and functioning of the modern armed forces, but is also ready to provide its own training facilities and expertise for the benefit of other partner countries. Since 2013, four specialized training courses conducted by the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Defense are open to all EAPC countries, including NATO members.
Belarus regularly brings forward initiatives in order to deepen its cooperation with Alliance in responding to challenges and threats to international security. Among such proposals by Belarus are the following:
Belarus believes that there is always an alternative to the politicized way of thinking: maintaining pragmatic dialogue and expanding practical cooperation. This approach is particularly relevant when it comes to sustaining international peace and security. Belarus is indeed proving its commitment to obligations in the field of international security, including in the framework of NATO. Our country makes a specific contribution to the NATO-led anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan carried out on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1386 (2001).
In line with this resolution of the UN Security Council, Belarus agreed to provide to NATO the possibility of rail transit through its territory of non-lethal cargo belonging to the Alliance, its member states and other nations contributing to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Since 2011, constant transit of non-lethal supplies for ISAF is performed through the territory of Belarus. Such agreement with the Alliance was formalized by exchange of letters between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and the NATO Secretary General.
Belarus’ efforts in maintaining international security are not subject to rapidly changing political environment and that is exactly why, despite the remaining differences with NATO on specific issues, laborious practical work to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation with the Alliance and its individual members goes on, taking into account the generally accepted principles of international law, mutual trust and respect.