Visiting Belarus visa-free

Statement by Ambassador Victar Gaisenak, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Belarus, At the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 6 November 2003

Our delegation welcomes the distinguished Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, and thanks him not only for his address but also for the attention that he has paid to co﷓operation with the OSCE during the time that he has held his high office. Aware of the significant role that NATO plays in the Euro-Atlantic region and sharing as we do common borders with countries that are members of the Alliance, Belarus attaches particular importance to the development of mutually advantageous and stable relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The furtherance of genuine, practical co﷓operation with NATO and its members is in fact one of our foreign policy priorities.

This applies mainly to a deepening and expansion of co﷓operation within the framework of the Euro﷓Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and the Partnership for Peace programme. The Republic of Belarus is prepared to make its contribution to a consolidation of European security and to move forward in co﷓operation with the Alliance over a broad range of issues. At the Prague meeting of the Euro﷓Atlantic Partnership Council we put forward specific proposals on the stepping up of co﷓operation in the area of counter-terrorism and regarding the new challenges to security. These proposals on the substance to be given to the individual plan of co﷓operation have to do with the use of our capabilities for training in preventing emergency situations and dealing with their aftermath, including situations caused by terrorist actions, inter alia the formulation of a regional partnership plan of action aimed at more extensive co﷓operation in the areas of border security, measures to combat illegal migration and the smuggling of weapons and of nuclear, chemical and biological materials, the conduct of joint training exercises to counter the radiological threat, and the willingness to make available the testing grounds of the Ministry of Emergency Situations as a centre for the training of specialists in rescue operations. In our opinion, these proposals are in line not only with the interests of the Republic of Belarus but also with the general concerns of the member countries of NATO, the EAPC and the OSCE.

Further, we should like to touch on a set of issues that are taking on particular importance against the background of the accession to NATO of a number of OSCE participating States, a development that will to some degree change the geopolitical situation on the European continent.

We respect the decision of the countries acceding to the Alliance but at the same time we note that some OSCE participating States are not making full use of the tools at their disposal to lend greater transparency to the enlargement process and to increase the confidence of the other OSCE participating States. In that connection, Belarus attaches particular importance to the strengthening of the European arms control system and system of confidence﷓ and security﷓building measures, including the possible adaptation of a number of existing OSCE politico﷓military mechanisms to the new realities.

In particular, we ascribe very great importance to the speedy entry into force of the Agreement on the Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty). Today, however, it is already obvious that the adapted Treaty will not enter into force by the time the new members actually join NATO in 2004. For that reason, we propose that consultations should begin in Vienna in the immediate future on the question of interaction in the security area during the transitional period and also on the terms and procedures under which new States may become Parties to the CFE Treaty.

We are also in favour of the revision of the Vienna Document 1999 and have in fact already presented specific proposals regarding the examination of that document within the framework of the Forum for Security Co﷓operation.

We are convinced that a candid and engaged dialogue between the OSCE and the NATO Alliance on issues relating to arms control and the fight against new threats and challenges to security is in the spirit of the times and can substantially add to the strength of the existing system of European stability by making that system truly comprehensive and indivisible.