Belarus Foreign Policy Index N28 (September–October 2015)

Belarus Foreign Policy Index N28 (September–October 2015)

We proudly present the twenty-eighth issue of Belarus Foreign Policy Index, in which we examine Belarus’s foreign policy in the five key dimensions in the months of September and October 2015.

Tensions remained in Belarus’s relations with Russia, stemming from the differences over the establishment of a Russian airbase in Belarus. However, the spat did not affect the current working relationship between the two countries, and bilateral contacts became even more frequent. Furthermore, Belarusian officials stepped up their efforts to promote the country’s interests within the institutions of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Following the release of the political prisoners and amid the presidential campaign in Belarus, the European Union member states were harmonizing their positions to provide mid- and long-term responses to the moves by official Minsk to normalize the bilateral relationship. Active diplomatic contacts continued. Further, the economic component of the European dimension of Belarusian diplomacy grew stronger.

The outcomes of President Lukashenka’s visit to China proved to be rather modest, although Belarusian senior officials managed to have their Chinese counterparts promise that the bilateral cooperation framework could be reviewed so that Belarus could generate more benefits. China started paying more attention to Belarus, mostly against the backdrop of the Silk Road Economic Belt project, which had gained momentum, as well as the deterioration in Belarus’s economic situation and discussions about the possible reform of the Belarusian economic model. In case of such a reform, the Chinese side wishes to be certain that all of its positions in Belarus will remain strong.

A slump in Belarus’s contacts with nearly all of the regions of the “developing world” was observed during the two months in question, with the exception of Latin America and South Asia. The most probable reason for this was the fact that the country’s Foreign Ministry was busy mending Belarus’s relationships with the West and the countries of the region and making sure the results of the presidential election were recognized. The intensification of Minsk’s relations with Latin America is an attempt to overcome the setback and standstill observed during the previous periods.

The political relationship with Ukraine remained favorable and constructive. The most significant step by the Belarusian side was the refusal to set up a Russian airbase in its territory, a move that was hailed by Ukraine. At the same time, there were certain frictions in mutual trade in the wake of Belarus’s introducing new import rules for goods.

Read the full text of the twenty-eighth issue of Belarus’ Foreign Policy Index in PDF