Visiting Belarus visa-free

Statement by Ambassador Viktar Gaisenak, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Belarus, at the Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council

Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Belarus to the OSCE

1 April 2004

Regarding NATO expansion

Mr. Chairman,

The accession to NATO of the seven new countries represents a conscious choice by the Governments of those countries. We respect that choice. However, we do not understand the need for an eastward expansion of NATO, something that the Republic of Belarus has repeatedly stated, and this expansion is a cause of entirely justified concern to us.

In particular, we cannot but be concerned at the fact that this expansion of NATO substantially alters the configuration of the European security system. A number of the new NATO members, including our immediate neighbours as well, are not Parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). This creates the danger of an unlimited and uncontrolled accumulation of offensive weapons in the immediate vicinity of our borders. The CFE Treaty is the cornerstone of European security. The emergence of vacuums in that cornerstone is fraught with the risk of bringing down the entire structure. As emphasized by Mr. Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus, we shall be compelled, in response to this development, to take appropriate measures, and we are taking them.

We believe that our concern, as indeed the concern expressed today by the Russian Federation regarding this matter, will also be shared by the OSCE as a whole, as reflected in the form of concrete actions. We call on all participating States to show political will and take the long overdue steps that have already been prepared to strengthen security in Europe both within the CFE Treaty and within the politico-military dimension of the OSCE as a whole.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.