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Statement by Sergei Martynov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, at the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (May 30, 2006, Putrajaja, Malaysia)

Mr.President!

Excellencies!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to express sincere gratitude to the host country, Malaysia, for the exceptional organization of this ministerial meeting, as well as for an excellent Presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement. I think that we all, as the Participating States, must be proud of the Presidency, which, with such skills and distinction has been steering the Non-Aligned ship through the turbulent waters of world politics and did its best to adapt the Movement to the changing global environment.

The change is really underway. And the change, we must soberly admit, is so far not in NAM’s favor. The sweet illusions of the 90s gave way to harsh reality. Many of us thought the Cold War had been won by the humane and the righteous. Instead, we once again saw: unrestrained power is only interested in its own absolute control worldwide.

As a result, the NAM finds itself today in a much more difficult strait than during the first three decades of its existence. Then, the Non-Aligned states at least had an option of balancing the precarious bipolar competition. What option do we have now? Those of us who reject to follow the groove of the prescribed Western-style liberalism have the only option — to face a whole array of means used on us by the mighty of the world – interference in our internal affairs, coups, sanctions, blockades, wars.

“We live in fear”, “the world is in a terrible mess, a state, worse than during the East-West confrontation”. These are the words of distinguished former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad at the XIII NAM Summit here in Malaysia three years ago. They are even more true now then before and amply describe what almost all people around the world feel about this unipolar moment.

The most vital threat comes to the independent stance, one of the most sacred principles, of the Movement and those Non-Aligned States that firmly espouse it. But what is more frightening is that we are being forced not only to forfeit our independence in foreign policy. There is an effort to also have a veto over our internal affairs. “The nature of regime matters”. This is a quotation from the recently adopted National Security Strategy of the USA. The intention leaves no doubts. The only question is where to expect the next application of this concept in practice. In Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Myanmar, Zimbabwe or Belarus?

Some of the present here might wonder what is the use of speaking time and again about flagrant breaches of the international law and the UN Charter, if we are powerless to do anything about it. Should we not altogether abandon our efforts and wait for a miracle in a distant future to succeed in what we fail today – to change the unipolar world and to bring an end to the suffering and injustice associated with it.

But let us sincerely ask ourselves: “Are we really so powerless?”

Belarus, which eight years ago became a full-fledged Member of the Movement, and has since then wholeheartedly embraced its principles and ideas, firmly says no. We are convinced that the Non-Aligned Movement is a real force. A force that can reclaim its rightful place in the world. The Movement can and must become a global player that will be reckoned with.

We cannot and should not wait for a distant miracle. We have power that can do miracles.

It is unity, our unity – thinking together and acting together.

We also must be frank in admitting that there are differences among the Participating States of the Movement. They are unavoidable and natural. But there are issues where we must be one. Let us start regaining our unity in standing together behind one goal we all must share – the role and the dignity of the Movement.

Let us stand together in providing the Movement the say in shaping the world, in making NAM matter. It is the only effective safeguard for the majority of nations in the UN to protect its interests.

Let us protect together our shared values and interests as nations.

Let us stand for the rights of smaller and less powerful nations, including in decision-making in the United Nations.

Let us make sure that NAM plays the major role in bringing the world – and the United Nations — to recognise that there is a whole diversity of ways of progressive development of nations.

Let us stand up for our rights and ability to defend the defenceless, protect the unprotected, the vulnerable.

Much has been said those days about what should be done to change from the unipolar system to a multipolar one. But the problem, as always, is where we start. Our proposal is, first of all, that we have to start immediately, secondly, that we have to start by efforts not to allow to eternalize the unipolar system of the world, not to allow to translate the current unipolar reality into structural changes and procedural changes in the UN system.

The most immediate place to start with, in our opinion, is the new Human Rights Council where the Non-aligned Movement received 27 seats. This is a formidable force. So our next proposal is that we concentrate our efforts in an immediate fashion in the Human Rights Council to prevent the abuse of the important issue of human rights, to prevent selectivity and double standards which were the topics abuzz in today’s and yesterday’s discussion.

A great journey always starts with a small step. Let us find the will and the courage to implement in practice the agreed opposition of NAM to the targeting of individual countries on the grounds of alleged human rights misdemeanours.

Let us try and prove in deed that no pragmatic considerations of bilateral relations with the mighty, the rich and the powerful of today can override our belief in the ideas and ideals that have brought us together in this Movement.

If we forfeit the ideals, we will be doomed to forfeit the goal of development and well-being of our peoples.

And let us ask the outgoing and the incoming Presidencies to make a concerted and vigorous effort to come up with a vision and proposals for the Havana summit on a practical programme to achieve these goals. Belarus stands ready to be an active part of this effort.

Thank you.