October 29 – November 4, 2018
Belarus-West relations

Minsk seeks to become a reliable partner for the United States

The situation has not changed
Minsk seeks to become a reliable partner for the United States

In foreign policy, major events last week were the meeting of the Main Group of the Munich Security Conference in Minsk – one of the most authoritative conferences in this field in the world, and the visit of US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell to Belarus.

On October 30th – November 1st, the meeting of the Main Group of the Munich Security Conference was held in Minsk. It brought together more than two hundred participants and guests, including the Foreign Ministers of Poland and Slovakia, the OSCE Secretary General, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and EU enlargement negotiations, the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security, the President of the Federal Intelligence Service of Germany; and representatives of leading Western research centres and the media.

While speaking to the participants in the conference, Alexander Lukashenka, in addition to usual statements about the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region, put forward concrete proposals how to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. These proposals included the setting of a technical point for a tripartite contact group in Minsk and deploying Belarusian peacemakers to control the Ukrainian-Russian border. He also offered to ensure the safety of elections in the unrecognized republics, “based on the understanding that these regions are an integral part of Ukraine”.

The visit to Belarus of US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell, who met with Lukashenko and Makey, was unprecedented. This was the first high-level visit in more than 10 years. During the meeting, the Belarusian president expressed “extreme interest” in improving relations with the United States and emphasised that should Belarus and the United States advance in relations, Belarusians would be “most reliable, honest and sincere partners”.

For his part, Mitchell noted Belarus’ success in ensuring stability and territorial integrity, and “above all political stability in Belarus”. The rhetoric of the American diplomat regarding Belarus was strikingly different from previous statements by US officials. Amidst recently outlined by Mitchell the new US strategy towards Central and Eastern Europe, this visit could indicate a significant change in approaches in the US administration to Belarus and the Belarusian authorities, taking into account the position of the latter on regional security.

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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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