Visiting Belarus visa-free

Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus V.Makei at the OSCE 25th Ministerial Council (December 6, 2018, Milan)

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Colleagues,

First of all, I would like to sincerely thank the Italian OSCE Chairmanship for its hospitality in Milan and its highly professional steering of the Organization.

Unfortunately, over the past year, we have moved further away from the guidelines set by the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. 

We have not settled conflicts in the OSCE area.

We have not defused tensions. 

We have not created an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust.

Just the opposite!

The OSCE remains hostage to geopolitics. The military capabilities and presence at each other’s borders continue to dangerously build up. Domestic political and even personal interests dominate over the interests of common security. The paradigm of conflict dominates over that of security community. We should stop thinking of new military bases, pumping our region with lethal weapons. It does not contribute to security for all. 

We should not be fatalists when it comes to resolving conflicts leading to human loss. In situations when a single spark can light a big fire. 

We cannot afford the luxury of “strategic patience” and idle contemplation when it comes to fostering an open, inclusive and mutually respectful dialogue which has no alternative. Thus, the crucial ingredients for appeasing tensions remain constructive political will and respect for international law.

This is exactly what the President of Belarus spoke about at the Munich Security Conference Core Group meeting last October in Minsk, reminding of his idea to launch “a new Helsinki process”. We do not propose to revisit the existing security architecture in Europe. Everything that has been done should be preserved and, where it is necessary, updated in the light of new challenges, obvious tendency of escalation of tensions, new arms race. 

The question number one on the agenda is not to redefine spheres of influence, but to identify and reconcile interests and strategic vulnerabilities. 

We urgently need to look for opportunities to work through the basics of this process, even if we should start at an expert level and then involve the main stakeholders.

Rediscovering the spirit and the essence of the Helsinki process adapted to new realities could become the major political project of a unifying nature for the whole continent.

The settlement of the Ukrainian conflict is a core issue of the European security. Some people say even that Donbass is an issue of political order in Europe. Unfortunately, the recent developments are of a serious concern.

With the incident in the Kerch Strait, we have come closer to an extremely dangerous line – that of a full-scale conflict. It is a ‘red line’. Behind it is the ‘point of no return’. We know too well from the history that similar incidents led to world wars in the past.

Belarus will continue to exert maximum efforts to help resolve this crisis, including through supporting the work of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk. We stand ready to constructively engage in any serious scenarios to resolve this conflict.

In the political military field, we support stock-taking of main intergovernmental controversies, identifying areas and points of tension leading to open military clashes, enhancing military transparency through establishing a system of signaling to each other on potential threats of conflict, restoring official and non-official channels of communication between the military, exchanging experience of regional and local confidence and security building measures among others. Belarus stands ready to further engage in good faith in this process with a view to reducing the threats of military confrontation, creating conditions for restoring trust in the European continent.

This is best response, in our view, to the so called ‘security dilemma’ in the OSCE area, when actions of some participating States aimed at ensuring their own security, lead in reality to the deterioration of security for all.

The Organization should redouble its efforts to counter common threats and challenges. I emphasize: common threats. 

Despite the critical situation and escalation of tensions in the OSCE area and the fact that attempts to restore dialogue have not been successful so far, Belarus firmly believes that the Organization should continue to focus on key issues that have a clear unifying component.

Being guided by this logic, we hosted together with the OSCE Secretariat the high level conference on “Preventing and Countering Terrorism in the Digital Age” last October in Minsk. We intend to further build on the topics of terrorism and antisemitism, including within the framework of the joint agenda of the OSCE and the UN.

We recognize a real practical value in fostering connectivity, including by promoting dialogue of various integration processes in the OSCE area. A strong economic multilateralism would also help decrease interest to inflaming conflicts.

Belarus remains committed to supporting any constructive ideas and efforts within the OSCE framework aimed at identifying common denominators across all three dimensions of security in order to ensure peace and prosperity in the OSCE area.

Thank you for your attention.