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Statement by Valery Voronetsky, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, at the Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the Central European Initiative, Bucharest, 12 November 2009

Mr. Chairmann,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express to the Government of Romania and the CEI Executive Secretariat my sincere appreciation of the excellent organization of this meeting. This is a good opportunity to exchange our opinions and views on the activities of our Organization as well as the situation in our region.

We consider the CEI a reliable and time-tested instrument for promoting dialogue and practical cooperation on a wide range of issues among the countries of Central, Southern and Eastern Europe in various formats.

To Belarus, 2009 was another year of highly useful and result-oriented cooperation with CEI, particularly in the field of science and education.

We appreciate the assistance of the CEI University Network Executive Board that helps Belarus to become one of active stakeholders in the UniNet. We welcome the priority attached by the CEI UniNet to participation of CEI non-EU Member States in its post-graduate level Joint Programmes.

The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus is a member of the CEI Science and Technology Primary Network since 2007. Through this membership, the Academy receives financial support for the mobility of PhD students from Belarus. This year, Deputy Secretary General of the Central European Executive Secretariat, Minister Mykola Melenevskyi, visited Minsk and took part in the international conference held in Minsk on the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the National Academy of Sciences.

Members of the National Assembly (Parliament) of the Republic of Belarus actively contribute to the work of the CEI Parliamentary Assembly. In both PA events here in Bucharest in May and October our parliamentarians shared with other participants the experience of Belarus in securing economic recovery, attracting foreign investment and strengthening social protection in the face of the global economic crisis. The National Assembly is ready to further consolidate its cooperation with the CEI Parliamentary Assembly.

I would like to take this opportunity and thank the CEI Executive Secretariat for supporting Belarus in its participation in various CEI events and project activities.

We find very successful the cooperation of the CEI with the EBRD TurnArround Management Programme (TAM), designed for small and medium sized companies, especially in non-EU countries. A number of important projects launched in Belarus this year under this programme serve the interests of our business community.

As a responsible CEI Member Belarus keeps up its financial commitments. We support the decision of today’s meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to maintain the 20 percent increase of the annual contributions to the CEI-Co-operation Fund.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Given the geopolitical situation of Belarus at the junction of four regions – Central and Eastern European, Black and Baltic Sea regions, we seek to promote synergies between the CEI and other subregional mechanisms. Since   1 July 2009 Belarus and another CEI Member-State – Romania, enjoy an observer status in the Council of the Baltic Sea States; the same status Belarus has in the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation since 2005. The above-mentioned regional organisations share a significant number of their priorities with the CEI (environment, energy, transport, science and technology). Belarus stands ready to support the coordination of their activities in areas of common interest, as agreed during the meetings between the heads of the three organizations` secretariats in December 2008 in Trieste.

We note with satisfaction that the new CEI Draft Action Plan for 2010–2012 pays special attention to the CEI Member States, which are not part of the European Union. In this way our Organisation makes its valuable contribution to co-operation at the external borders of the European Union and social and economic cohesion in our region. The main topics of the CEI activities for the next 3-year period match the priorities of our own external cooperation agenda.

In conclusion, I would like to commend once again the Government of Romania for the extensive and fruitful work during its CEI Presidency and wish every success to our colleagues from Montenegro who take over the Presidency next year.

Thank you for your attention.

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