Visiting Belarus visa-free

Statement by Mr.Vladimir Makei, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, at the Twentieth Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council (5-6 December 2013, Kyiv)


Mr Chairperson,
Distinguished colleagues,  

At the 2010 OSCE Summit in Astana Heads of our States expressed their strong determination to work together to realize the vision of a comprehensive, co-operative and indivisible security community throughout the OSCE area.  

Today,three years later, it would be appropriate to ask ourselves how effective our common efforts have been to achieve this ambitious purpose in the interest of all participating States.  

Ironically as it may seem, despite all efforts made and certain results achieved,the overall impression is that instead of moving forward with every year we step away from the Helsinki values and principles.

Unfortunately, some partners are persistent in their attempts to push forward their priorities to the detriment of other States. Failure to engage in a mutually respectful dialogue and application of double standards are evident. Not to mention the faulty practice of political pressure and use of various restrictive measures between participating States. As we see it today, hasty steps and categorical statements, next to interference into internal affairs, only provoke tensions.  

All this creates mistrust within the OSCE,separates us from each other, escalates further confrontation and ultimately threatens the security and stability in the region.

This situation fundamentally contradicts basic principles of the OSCE and significantly complicates the effective implementation of the tasks set out in Astana.

We expect that the “Helsinki plus 40” process launched this year will be conducive to rectifying the situation and improving the climate of our dialogue and co-operation. However, this is not the first attempt made recently to revitalize our Organization. It is our hope that this time we will have not only a substantive and inclusive discussion but we will also adopt relevant strategic decisions.Only then, the OSCE will be able to play a truly significant role in developing common and effective responses to modern challenges and threats to security.

We hope that within the “Helsinki plus 40” process we will finally move forward in the implementation of the long-overdue institutional reform of the OSCE. It is important to break the deadlock around drafting of the OSCE Charter, to put the ODIHR's election observation activities on collectively agreed basis, as well as to optimize meetings in the human dimension. These measures will raise the profile and effectiveness of the OSCE, they will increase confidence in its institutions.  

Belarus has been consistently advocating strengthening the politico-military dimension of security. Over the last decade arms control has been held hostage of artificial political linkages.It is necessary to immediately start working on recreating the pan-European arms control regime – from scratch and without preconditions. Modernization of the 2011 Vienna Document should be an integral part of this process.

We support the increase in the OSCE activities to counter transnational threats and challenges, including international terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings. Cyberspace security is getting particularly pertinent today. In this regard, we welcome the adoption of relevant confidence-building measures within the OSCE.It is important to coordinate our efforts in this field with other partners to avoid duplication and to identify areas where our organization is most needed.  

Within the economic and environmental dimension, it is necessary to focus on issues that have a direct impact on living standards and security of our citizens. For instance, it is fully consistent with the mandate of our Organization to address implications of the global financial and economic crisis and to develop measures to tackle them.  

We believe that seeking ways to harmonize economic integration processes in the OSCE area in order to prevent new dividing lines and points of tension, should be another forward-looking topic. We support the OSCE's focus on the issues of energy security, environmental protection, prevention of and response to consequences of natural disasters.  

Regretfully,confidence crisis, disagreements and contradictions in approaches of the participating States are still most salient within the human dimension basket. Excessive politization of human rights, exaggerated attention to some issues to the detriment of other important ones, continued geographical disbalance towards East of Vienna,as well as attempts to fill the OSCE agenda with non-consensual and artificial themes are among the reasons for that.

Radical change in approaches and methods is essential for constructive co‑operation within the OSCE human dimension to meet common interests and contribute to the progress in implementation of commitments in this area. We must learn together to conduct a mutually respectful dialogue on the whole range of human rights issues; take into account the context, specificities, sensitivities and partners' opinion; seek for topics with a common denominator.

We see the topic of freedom of movement, including liberalization of visa regimes, as one of such issues. Implementation of relevant OSCE commitments and reduction of barriers for human contacts meet the needs and interests of our citizens, and will facilitate implementation of the vision to create the security community.

In conclusion,let me address most sincere words of gratitude to Ukraine – our close neighbour and partner – for the warm hospitality on the Ukrainian soil and for the excellent organization of this meeting. And also let me wish every success to Switzerland as the OSCE 2014 Chairmanship-in-Office.   

Thank you, Mr Chairperson!