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Final Remarks by Mr.Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, at the Regional Conference «The Middle-Income Countries Perspective on Sustainable Development in CIS, Eastern and Southern Europe»

Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I am extremely delighted to address you with final remarks.
 
You have just completed substantive discussion at the regional conference. As you may well know, this event’s proceedings will be summarized in the form of a Chair’s summary. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, in the discharge of this duty, will do its best to adequately reflect everything that has been deliberated here over the past day and a half. 
 
On my part, I would like to take a look of what may lie ahead in the context of possible follow-up to the conference. Indeed, having come up with the idea of a conference yet last year, we were often asked how we would foresee its follow-up. I will tell you frankly that initially we did not have a clear-cut answer. We were groping for this kind of understanding, and it was coming to us gradually, as we increasingly involved ourselves in substantive preparation for the conference.
 
But, let me first dwell on its significance, as this, in turn, will help demonstrate the scope for the follow-up action.
 
The main result, as I see it, is that we were able to “revive” the theme of middle-income countries. Let us recall that with the onset of the global economic and financial crisis the topic has, in effect, been pushed to the “background”. It is vividly attested by the fact that there were no international events on middle-income countries over the past four years. What is even more, in 2011 the UN General Assembly adopted only a procedural resolution on the issue, thereby generating fears that it might fall out of the UN agenda altogether.
 
As another major result, I see a successful integration of the two topics – those of middle-income countries and sustainable development. I first voiced the idea of such an integration with the UN Secretary General when I met him last October. I believed that the context created by the International Conference on Sustainable Development “Rio+20” provided a proper opportunity to advance these two issues simultaneously. The Secretary General liked the idea and advised to realize it. 
 
Today, it is absolutely clear that the idea of integrating the two issues was both timely and needed. Indeed, soon after we had set in train our preparatory work, we learned that the Government of Costa-Rica with UNIDO’s support planned to mastermind an international conference, which, essentially, also represents an attempt to integrate the topics of middle-income countries with sustainable development. We welcome Costa-Rica’s undertaking and will do our best to make it a success.
 
In the context of the follow-up activities, we need to ponder over how we can support and build upon the main results of the Minsk conference.
 
With this in mind, Belarus plans to sponsor a draft resolution on the issue of middle-income countries in the context of sustainable development at the forthcoming substantive session of ECOSOC in July. I would like to tell you that our Permanent Mission in New York has already actively engaged in consultations many partners. We see two principled elements, which we want to articulate clearly in the resolution and, then, implement.
 
First, let us recall that the last major international conference on middle-income countries, held in Namibia in 2008, ended with the Windhoek Declaration, which contained a provision about the need for a comprehensive plan of action on cooperation with middle-income countries. We essentially try to resuscitate the idea. However, the consultations that have already been held in New York show that such a plan could be acceptable to all groups of states, if it covered UN interagency activities related to the cooperation with middle-income countries. This, in turn, would remove the concern harbored by least developed countries that a possible comprehensive plan could entail resource redistribution within the UN system to the loss of that particular group of states.
 
Second, if we are keen to advance the idea of an interagency plan of action, we need to think about setting up an interagency mechanism to coordinate how the plan would be implemented. This mechanism, in our opinion, could be established in the form of an UN System Task Team to coordinate cooperation with middle-income countries. Coordination mechanisms have already been in place in many areas and proven their efficacy. For instance, with regard to human trafficking we have the Interagency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) that brings together 17 agencies in the UN System.
 
In this regard, I would like to call upon the countries participating in the conference to support Belarus’ action at the ECOSOC.
 
Finally, in the follow-up context we deem it important to make the outcome of our conference available to various mechanisms within the United Nations that have been currently involved in the preparation of the post-2015 UN Development Agenda. I am convinced that the interests of middle-income countries must be adequately reflected in the process.
 
Let us bear in mind that by enhancing the role of middle-income countries in the world we are effectively promoting the interests of our own countries, and contributing to a more stable and prosperous world. 
 
With this, I would like to conclude by thanking all of you for actively participating in the conference. Last, but not least, I would like to wish all of you success in your further work.
 
Thank you for your kind attention.