In relations with the West, Belarus plans to adhere to the previously outlined normalisation plan
In early 2018, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry published the 2017 Belarusian foreign policy review, which stated that Belarus was able to occupy its own niche in the modern world thanks to her ability to play an independent role in the regional policy. According to the review, the dialogue between Belarus and the European Union in 2017 became more structured and economically feasible.
In addition, the Foreign Ministry noted the intensification of bilateral relations with some EU member states. Steady trends included: further growth in the level and frequency of official visits, more trustful and constructive negotiations; wider circle of partner organizations and thematic scope of cooperation, including new formats of cooperation; development of inter-parliamentary contacts; improved quality of contacts in different spheres; enhanced interest of foreign business in the Belarusian market and investors in the Belarusian economy.
The review also emphasised the progress in relations with the United States in the areas of mutual interest, including trade and economy, humanitarian field, fighting international organised crime, and professional exchanges. Cooperation on expert level intensified, too.
Simultaneously, the anticipated extension of the visa-free stay for foreigners, including from the EU and the US up to 10 days was not announced in early 2018. Apparently, the delay was caused not only due to technical difficulties connected, for example, with changes in the order of registration of foreigners in Belarus, but also due to Moscow’s discontent with such a policy of openness amid the lingering confrontation between Russia and the West.
From the first days of 2018, Minsk reiterated and promoted the new Helsinki process issue. In an interview with the Belarus 1 TV channel and the Chinese agency Xinhua, Foreign Minister Makey spoke about Belarus’ interest in reducing the confrontation in the region through the new negotiation process. He said that Belarus had developed the concept of the initiative and was working on its implementation.
Minsk is not expecting a breakthrough improvement in relations with the West, but it is determined to continue the ongoing normalisation, which began several years ago. In this process, the Belarusian authorities lost many of the earlier illusions, but learned greater flexibility and gained cooperation experience, which implies greater stability of relations with the West.
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