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December 11 – December 17, 2023
Belarus-West relations

Heading towards the Global South and East – Against the West

The situation has not changed
Heading towards the Global South and East – Against the West
фото: БелТА

Belarus is increasingly focusing on cultivating relations with countries in the “far arc.” Minsk is also relying on Moscow’s support in forging new partnerships with nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Alongside coordinating efforts on international platforms, both countries aim to undertake joint economic projects in these regions. The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, traditionally tasked with managing Western relations, will now oversee actions in collaboration with other departments responsible for cooperation with the “far arc” countries in the current geopolitical landscape.

On December 15, a meeting of the foreign ministries’ collegiums of Russia and Belarus occurred in Moscow. Participants delved into current issues of Belarusian-Russian cooperation, prospects for interaction within integration associations, and expanding mutual support on international platforms. They exchanged assessments of global and regional security, with a specific focus on collaboration with countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in both bilateral and multilateral formats.

Minsk and Moscow underscore that the foreign policy emphasis of the two countries is now on the global South and East, the global majority, and countries open to cooperation based on equality and mutual benefit without ultimatums, threats, or sanctions. This agenda reflects the adaptation of Russia and Belarus’s foreign policy priorities to the current geopolitical realities shaped by the confrontation with the West.

Following the meeting, they reviewed the results of the implementation of the program of coordinated foreign policy actions and discussed the draft program for 2024-2026. The European security system was also discussed, acknowledging the absence of common approaches with Western countries. Therefore, both countries face the task of constructing a sustainable architecture of security and cooperation throughout Eurasia, relying on existing integration associations like the CSTO, CIS, SCO, League of Arab States, etc.

This year, the coordination of Belarusian and Russian foreign policy was evident in blocking Estonia’s chairmanship in the OSCE. The parties also enhanced coordination at other international platforms. Minsk hopes to expand its participation in “fair international formats” with Kremlin support, exhibiting a positive attitude toward constructive dialogue. These include the SCO, BRICS, ASEAN, and CICA.

Belarus previously applied for full membership in the SCO and applied to join BRICS. Discussions revolved around issues of interaction and participation in BRICS formats in 2024, considering Russia’s chairmanship in this association. The parties agreed to coordinate their efforts.

Much attention was given to developing cooperation and joint activities with Russia in working with African countries. Both Minsk and Moscow see Africa as a dynamically developing region, the second continent after Eurasia with a population exceeding 1.5 billion. By 2050, 60% of Africa’s population will be young people.

Both capitals believe that Russia and Belarus have clear advantages: no colonial past, opposition to neocolonialism, and cooperation based on equality, mutual respect, trust, and mutual benefit.

Minsk and Moscow also agreed to soon reach specific coordination on economic projects aiming to “strengthen the economic sovereignty and economic independence” of African countries. Additionally, almost all African countries need to develop agriculture, ensure food security, and focus on industrial and technological development, construction, education, and healthcare projects.

Upon returning to Minsk on December 13 from his tour to Africa, the UAE, and China, Aliaksandr Lukashenka held a meeting. Following the meeting, Viktar Sheyman was appointed as a special envoy for Africa (especially Kenya). Aliaksandr Kosinets will oversee work with Equatorial Guinea and Kenya on behalf of the Presidential Administration, while the Chinese direction was assigned to First Deputy Prime Minister Mikalai Snapkou. The primary focus for a “breakthrough” in 2024 is cooperation with India. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will develop proposals for intensifying interaction with India and play a coordinating role for all officials responsible for developing relations with the “far arc” countries.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.
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