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Annual Review of Foreign Policy of the Republic of Belarus and Activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014

The international environment in 2014 was characterised by the growing instability in international relations and the intensification of regional conflicts.

The attempts of the leading global players to change the balance of power in the international arena in their favour, to impose certain models of social and economic development, became additional factors of instability leading to the loss of mutual confidence in interstate relations, to the return to elements of block confrontation including the use of sanctions. There was a further erosion of international law, which was increasingly interpreted in favour of geopolitical interests. These processes were accompanied by unprecedented information confrontation.

In this context, the main efforts of Belarusian diplomacy were focused on efficient pursuance of the multi-vector foreign policy set by the Head of State. Mutually beneficial relations with various foreign countries were developed in strict compliance with national interests and emphasis on creating favourable conditions for sustainable economic development and improvement of public welfare.

Today Belarus is represented by 67 diplomatic missions in 56 countries worldwide. In 2014, Belarusian embassies were opened in Australia, Qatar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Ecuador, and Consulate General was opened in Milan (Italy).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs closely coordinated its actions with branch ministries, rendered comprehensive assistance to national export companies and paid priority attention to protection of legal rights and interests of Belarusian nationals abroad.

Belarus sought to contribute to the resolution of global and regional issues, and was a traditionally active participant in the work of the UN and other international organisations.

Fully aware of the danger of the crisis in Ukraine for the entire region, Belarus, within its capabilities, made intensive efforts to promote its settlement. The practical result of these efforts were the Minsk arrangements that helped de-escalate the conflict and translate it in the diplomatic track which, in the opinion of the Belarusian side, has no alternative.

The results achieved in 2014 favoured the improvement of our country’s foreign policy standing and its prestige in the world arena, reconsideration by a number of foreign partners of the role and place of Belarus in the course of ensuring regional security and stability, as well as in  development of integration processes.

The strategic cooperation between Belarus and Russia was improving. Together with the partners in the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space – Russia and Kazakhstan – Belarus made systematic efforts to elaborate the Treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and to pave a way for its broad practical implementation.

The launch of the EEU on 1 January 2015 marks a fundamentally new level in Eurasian integration. Respect of sovereignty, equality and consideration of interests of all the Contracting Parties are crucial for further development of these processes.

Notable progress was achieved in step-by-step revival of pragmatic cooperation with the European Union and in intensification of dialogue with the United States.

Belarusian-Chinese relations were brought to a new level.

Concrete results were achieved in the expansion of the Belarusian diplomatic presence in various regions of the world, in intensifying relations with traditional partners and in developing contacts with promising partners and allies of Belarus in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The National Law “On Belarusians Abroad” was elaborated and adopted. It defines the key principles, objectives and directions of state policy in the sphere of relations with Belarusians living abroad.

The openness of the Belarusian economy and its close relationships with the outside world, the systemic crisis in the economies of the major trading partners of Belarus and, above all, of the neighboring countries, hampered the promotion of national economic interests, and revitalised the issue of further diversification of foreign trade to ensure the sustainable development of national economy.


Comprehensive union relations between Russia and Belarus were actively developing in all directions. Intensive high-level contacts, various forms of intergovernmental and intersectoral cooperation provided substantive content and achievements in bilateral dialogue, allowed to solve the problem issues in a constructively way.

The Russian Federation has maintained its role as the largest trading partner of Belarus, which accounted for up to half of the total volume of the Belarusian foreign trade and more than 42 percent of exports. Belarus, in turn, entered the top five major trading partners of Russia.

As part of the traditionally close coordination between the foreign ministries to strengthen the positions of our countries in the international arena, the Programme of Concerted Action in the sphere of foreign policy for 2014-2015 was being effectively implemented. The implementation plan of Belarus-Russian international initiatives dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War was approved.

Regional ties were developing dynamically. A substantial number of Belarusian delegations’ visits to Russian regions and the visits of Russian delegations to Belarus were organised. For the first time the Forum of Belarusian and Russian Regions was held and Days of Belarus in Siberia were organised.

Implementation of numerous union programmes and holding of multiple events contributed to strengthening of all-rounded cooperation within the Union State of Russia and Belarus, which remains a landmark for the integration processes within the CIS.


The key direction of the Foreign Ministry’s actions was the integration component, the significance of which will steadily increase in the future. A range of vital issues, such as custom duties on oil products, guaranteed volumes of oil supplies, liberalisation of the market of pharmaceutical products, medical goods and transport services were resolved in the course of preparation for the signing and ratification of the Agreement on the Establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union.

As the Presidency of the EAEU in 2015, the Republic of Belarus will be longing for creation of a decent economic union without exceptions and limitations, adding new impulse to the process of “integrating integrations”, which presupposes tuning equal cooperation between EAEU and EU with the aim of creating common economic space in the future.

The unscheduled Presidency of Belarus in the CIS in 2014 was highly evaluated by the Member Countries of the Commonwealth. The active steps of the Belarusian side encompassed  various high-level events in Minsk,  the international economic forum “The CIS and new forms of cooperation”, initiatives to develop interaction in the field of innovations, transport logistics, trade services and technical settlement.


The agenda of bilateral relations with the Member Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States was traditionally busy.

Against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine, the Republic of Belarus together with the Ukrainian colleagues was striving to maintain a high level of political dialogue, trade and economic cooperation. It was stimulated by the three meetings of the President of Belarus with the Ukrainian administration in the course of 2014.

The traditionally close cooperation with Kazakhstan in various spheres was organically supported by interaction in integrational associations.

The official visit of the Head of the Belarusian State to Kishinev gave a serious impetus to the cooperation with Moldova.

The process of enlarging the bilateral interaction was supported by the official visits of the Presidents of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Belarus. The meetings and negotiations proved the high level of mutual understanding, determined new directions of cooperation in the economic sphere.

Relevant meetings of intergovernmental commissions with Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan contributed to the quality content and expansion of trade and economic cooperation.

The effectiveness of economic interaction is proved by a trade surplus with the CIS countries and Georgia (except Russia), amounting to over $3.5 billion.


The year of 2014 was marked by the revival of dialogue with the European Union (EU) and its member states.

The meeting of the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko with the Vice President of the European Commission / The High Representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy Catherine Ashton took place within the Minsk meeting of the Heads of States of the Customs Union, Ukraine and the representatives of the EU.

Consultations on modernisation issues with the EU were held to determine the best form of cooperation between the Government of Belarus and the European Union. Belarus – European Commission negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements were initiated.

Belarus continued its active participation in the events of the multilateral track of “Eastern Partnership” (EaP), including ministerial level meetings. Within the Eastern Partnership, the Belarusian side put forward a new initiative on harmonisation of the digital markets of the EU Member States and six EaP Partner countries.

Cooperation with the EU in the field of technical assistance was developing effectively, including the EU National Indicative Programme for Belarus and EU cross-border cooperation programmes “Lithuania-Latvia-Belarus”, “Poland-Ukraine-Belarus” and “Baltic Sea Region”.

The European Union remained one of the key trade and investment partners of our country. More than a quarter of the Belarusian foreign trade falls on the EU countries. Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia are the key trade and economic partners of Belarus in the EU.


Bilateral relations with European countries were built in a constructive and pragmatic way, and were characterised by the growing dynamics of contacts.

The political dialogue with Germany was noticeably intensified, a range of intersectoral cooperation mechanisms was “defrosted” with widening of the bilateral agenda. The emerged “window of opportunity” was actively used to secure positive trends in cooperation.

Positive signs in relations with France allowed to set up the bilateral intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation, to intensify efforts on formation of the legal and legislative basis, to launch the implementation of joint investment and production projects. Moreover, cooperation between state insurance agencies of the two countries became systematic.

The visit of the President of the Republic of Belarus to Belgrad contributed to high dynamics of cooperation with Serbia, including the interaction in industry, agriculture, construction, science, education and tourism.

Visits of the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus to Turkey gave an important impetus to the development of dialogue between the two countries. Visa–free travel and readmission agreements entered into force.

Pragmatic cooperation between Belarus and the Baltic States was characterised by positive dynamics, backed by serious economic cooperation.

2014 saw the visits of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania to Belarus and of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus to Latvia and Lithuania.

Positive dynamics of economic cooperation and political dialogue with countries of the Visegrad Group (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Czech Republic) should be noted.

The active preparations for the national exposition at the World Exhibition “Expo 2015” in Milan (Italy) were conducted.

In 2014, eight meetings of intergovernmental commissions on trade and economic cooperation were convened with Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia. Inter-ministerial consultations were held with 14 European countries.


Belarus continued to explore the possibility for improved dialogue with the United States of America on areas of mutual interest, including international security, non-proliferation, trade and investment, combating trafficking in persons, and protection of intellectual property rights.

Effective was bilateral cooperation in the spheres of healthcare, sport, in humanitarian areas, as well as interaction between Belarusian and the U.S. law-enforcement agencies.

In 2014, the bilateral trade exceeded $0.5 billion.

The Belarusian Investment Forum, held last September in New York, became a significant event which was attended by the Belarusian government delegation led by the Prime Minister. The American side was represented by over 100 companies, as well as investment funds, academic institutions, federal and local authorities of the United States.


Belarus continued to actively develop cooperation with Africa and the Middle East. Belarusian export continued to expand in these regions.

A visit of the President of the Republic of Belarus to the United Arab Emirates gave a new impetus to cooperation with the UAE.

The sessions of intergovernmental committees and commissions on trade and economic cooperation with Egypt, Kuwait, UAE, Sudan contributed to the expansion of mutually beneficial relations.

Visits of the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus to Iraq initiated the implementation of the strategy for a comprehensive development of bilateral relations.

Trade and economic cooperation with Syria kept the positive trend.

An intensive high-level dialogue with Israel laid a good foundation for the expansion of investment cooperation and interaction in high-tech areas.

Belarus tried to increase the level of interaction with Africa. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus paid visits to Nigeria and South Africa, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. Belarus was visited by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mozambique.

At the same time, the opportunities to develop mutually beneficial relations were considerably limited by the continuing instability in some key – for Belarusian interests – states in Africa and the Middle East.


Given the high rates of economic rise of Asia and the growth of its influence in global politics and economics, Belarusian diplomacy paid attention to supporting high dynamics of cooperation with traditional and new partners in the Asia-Pacific, South and Southeast Asia regions.

Effective contacts at the highest levels with Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Iran, Cambodia, China, Laos contributed to maintaining high dynamics of bilateral relations, consolidated implementation of specific economic projects.

Cooperation in various fields with China, the key partner of Belarus in the region, reached a new level. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus paid an official visit to Beijing.

New Belarusian diplomatic missions in Australia, Pakistan and Mongolia favoured the intensification of bilateral relations with these countries.

Within inter-sectorial cooperation our country was visited by the heads of various agencies from India, Indonesia, Iran, China, Korea, Sri Lanka, Japan and other Asian countries.

Sessions of intergovernmental committees and commissions on trade and economic cooperation with Vietnam, Iran, Cambodia, China, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Japan were held, contributing to the expansion of bilateral relations.

The bilateral trade with Asian countries exceeded $4 billion. Joint bilateral credit and investment projects are being implemented. Belarus continues to establish the Belarusian-Chinese industrial park. New Belarusian distribution networks were created in Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia.


In 2014, Belarus continued to expand interaction and geography of cooperation with the countries of Latin America. 

Belarus has significantly intensified its dialogue with Argentina. A mutually beneficial relationship with Brazil continued to develop. Belarus increased its export of potash fertilisers to the Brazilian market, and continued to establish assembly production of Belarusian machinery in this state.

Large-scale cooperation with Venezuela remained one of the priorities of the Latin American vector. Belarus was able to maintain the volume of its export to this country and continued the implementation of major projects in industry, construction and agriculture.

Joint projects for exploration and production of oil and other mineral resources in Ecuador continued to develop.

The 2nd session of the bilateral commission on trade and economic cooperation contributed to intensification of cooperation with Bolivia.

Belarus strengthened its political dialogue with Cuba, and developed new incentives for trade and economic cooperation. The intergovernmental agreement on countertrade signed during the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus to Havana, provides for deliveries of Belarusian equipment and Cuban medicines.


During the previous year Belarus continued intensive efforts to promote the country's major foreign policy initiatives on various aspects of the UN agenda and its specialised agencies and institutions.

An important achievement of the Belarusian diplomacy in combating human trafficking was the spread of a concerted international effort to a new realm – the prevention of trafficking in human organs.  

In particular, the resolution on “Preventing illicit trafficking in human organs and trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal” initiated by Belarus was adopted on the 23rd session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Belarus’ initiative on protection of the institution of family and promotion of traditional family values reached a new level. The topical events were held in the UN.

Belarus intensified international cooperation on Chernobyl and promotion of multilateral assistance to the countries with average income.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus met with UN Secretary-General and the UNDP Administrator in the UN Climate Summit.

In accordance with its international obligations in the sphere of Nuclear and Radiation Safety, Belarus presented detailed information on the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in the most important international forums in this field.

The contacts with the senior officials of international organisations, funds and programmes of the UN system maintained its positive tendency: UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, UNICEF Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier visited Minsk.

In November, the regional UNICEF conference “Strengthening national mechanisms to protect children from neglect, abuse, violence and exploitation” for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States took place for the first time in Minsk.


The previous year saw constructive cooperation of the Republic of Belarus with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Belarus was actively engaged in the OSCE activities on crisis management in Ukraine, and provided the platform for negotiations of a contact group on Ukraine which resulted in the agreements that contributed to the de-escalation of the crisis.

The Belarusian delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs took active part in the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Basel (Switzerland). A number of documents which were in Belarus national interests, including the ministerial declarations on further steps in the process of “Helsinki Plus 40” and on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, were adopted.

Pragmatic cooperation with the OSCE executive structures was developing, including preparation and implementation of joint projects in Belarus. The OSCE representative on Freedom of the Media and The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on gender issues visited Belarus.

A constructive dialogue and the development of practical cooperation between Belarus and the Council of Europe (CoE) took place. In particular, Belarus joined the European Convention on action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

The previous year Belarus continued active cooperation with the Central European Initiative (CEI) which remains to be an important platform for sub-regional cooperation. Belarusian delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs participated in the annual Summit of the Heads of Government of the countries-members of the Central European Initiative in Vienna (Austria) on 24 November 2014.

In September 2014, the CEI Deputy Secretary-General participated in the seminar “CEI – Eastern Neighbourhood” on the prospects of cooperation between CEI and the Eastern Partnership which was co-hosted in Minsk by Belarus State University, the Austrian presidency and the CEI Secretariat.


To ensure national security, Belarus actively interacted with its partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Our active cooperation increased the effectiveness of counteraction mechanisms to new challenges and threats; legal, financial and economic support of the CSTO was improved. Appropriate decisions were taken during the two high-level summits in 2014.

Contributing to the international efforts to maintain and promote peace and security, Belarus continued to responsibly fulfil its commitments in non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms control, export controls on specific goods, works and services, compliance with UN Security Council sanctions. Belarus continued intensive multilateral and bilateral efforts on combating terrorism. Serious attention was paid to such relatively new issues as international information security and space security.

In 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction initiated by Belarus.

As a result of the visit of the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Üzümcü to Minsk, Belarus’s cooperation with the OPCW received a new impetus reflected in  the opening in Belarus of the OPCW centre of excellence in the field of protection against chemical weapons.

With active diplomatic assistance, the construction of a plant for the destruction of anti-personnel mines PFM-1 in Belarus was completed. European Commission funds the project for the destruction of more than 3.3 million antipersonnel mines of the Soviet Union period.


Priority attention was paid to coordinate the implementation of the National Export Development Program of the Republic of Belarus 2011-2015.

Belarus had 207 foreign trade partners in 2014. Belarusian goods were exported to nine new countries.

Special attention was paid to consistent defence of national economic interests within the Eurasian integration; to fine-tuning of the Eurasian Economic Union single market; to gradual removal of the existing exemptions and restrictions on trade in goods and services.

Belarus actively utilised the potential of the Eurasian Economic Union to protect its exporters from the restrictive measures against Belarusian products, and to remove the restrictions imposed by third countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassies assisted the Belarusian and foreign exporters in the use of Belarusian export support mechanisms such as export credit, export risk insurance, international leasing and tax incentives.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs carried out targeted work with Belarusian enterprises to enhance the quality and to increase the level of post-sale services abroad. The plans of joint actions to increase export are being worked out and implemented.

Special attention is being given to coordination of further development and optimisation of over 300 Belarusian entities abroad, including 141 assembly lines.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs participated in the reformation and liberalisation of the national economy, which was appreciated by the international institutions. “Doing Business-2015”, a copublication of The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, ranked Belarus 57th  among 189 countries. The long-term strategic goal is to join the first 30 states.

Systematic efforts were made to create favourable investment climate and to attract foreign investment. One of the most striking examples of successful cooperation with foreign investors was the construction by the Swiss company “Stadler” of the plant for the production of electric trains in Belarus, which was set in operation in November 2014.


In 2014, 105 international treaties and other international legal documents were signed. At present, the legal and legislative basis of the Republic of Belarus consists of 2214 bilateral and 1655 multilateral agreements.

The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (signed on 29 May 2014) is the most important one. The Belarusian interests were already taken into account at the stage of creation of the institutional framework and the formation of the Union legal system.

The legal and legislative basis was expanded by the investment protection agreements with Cambodia and Iraq, the agreement on trade and economic cooperation with Cambodia. Expert consultations on free trade agreements with Vietnam, Israel and New Zealand were held.

In 2014, Belarus established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of East Timor. So far, our country has established diplomatic relations with 174 countries, i.e. 90 percent of the UN membership.


Special attention by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was traditionally paid to rendering consular assistance to Belarusian citizens and to the protection of their legal rights and interests overseas. In 2014, about 2000 compatriots received the necessary consular assistance in extreme situations abroad.

Great attention was given to further development of bilateral contractual basis in the area of travel facilitation. Intergovernmental travel visa waiver agreements were signed with Israel, Cambodia and Ecuador. Agreements with Bolivia, Laos, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Sri Lanka became effective. At present, citizens of 17 countries may enter the Republic of Belarus without a visa.

In order to stimulate business contacts and interpersonal attitudes, to increase tourist attractiveness of the country, Visa Rules of the Republic of Belarus were changed, the procedures for issuing visas to foreign citizens were simplified.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held consular consultations with the foreign ministries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Estonia, and two rounds of consultations with the European Commission on the simplification of visa procedures and readmission.

Belarus offered high quality consular services to foreign visitors during the World Hockey Championship 2014.

Visas issuance was one of the most high-profile aspects of the consular service work: 381 084 of foreign nationals and non-citizens were granted 347 294 Belarusian visas in 2014.

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