Foreign policy priorities of the ministry remain unchanged – protection and advancement of national interests of the Republic of Belarus in all vectors, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said when introducing new Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei on 22 August.
The decrees to relieve Sergei Martynov of his duties as the foreign minister and to appoint Vladimir Makei new foreign minister were signed on 20 August. “I have not analyzed how our allies and adversaries responded to it. I would like to state my view. After working for nearly ten years as the foreign minister, comparatively a long time ago Sergei Martynov said he would like to change the job. It was his initiative. From my point of view, it looked very decent, manlike, particularly his motivation,” the head of state said.
“It is rather important where Sergei Martynov will work because he is no stranger for me personally and for the country. He has done a lot for the development of the agency in charge of foreign policy and foreign trade,” Alexander Lukashenko said. Praising professional qualities of Sergei Martynov, the President stressed: “He is a rational man. I have never been allergic to him and his actions. Moreover, you probably know about it, I have been trying to get him involved in duties outside his profile, in things that have to be analyzed. I hope it was not only his work but the work of the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
Alexander Lukashenko remarked that for a long time he had been deliberating who would step into the office of the foreign minister after Sergei Martynov quit. Addressing the present heads of departments and personnel of the Foreign Ministry, he underlined: “With the new minister you may be able to generate the ideas we need not only in the foreign policy area but inside the state It is the quality and effectiveness of your work that determine how our young sovereign independent state is recognized across the globe, primarily, in relevant parts of the planet.”
“I should mention that in the area of foreign policy we have not allowed serious failures that could negatively affect the destiny of our state. And we did that despite the huge pressure exercised by individual countries because of our independent foreign policy and the desire to protect our national interests,” the President added.
Alexander Lukashenko conferred an Order of Fatherland, Third Class upon Sergei Martynov for many years of work in the area of foreign policy and the advancement of international relations of Belarus.
Introducing new Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, Alexander Lukashenko emphasized: “I do not think I have to do a lot to present the new minister before you. You know Vladimir Makei. He has left a mark not only in the Foreign Ministry office but in diplomatic missions of Belarus outside the country. It is possible that his potential might have been used more widely in foreign policy in any capacity”. “It is no secret to you that I have involved him in some foreign policy initiatives. Following my instructions he has met with many leaders both in the East and the West in a bid to normalize our relations, particularly those in the West, in particularly acute periods. And he was able to do it,” the President said.
“I would like to underline that foreign policy priorities of the ministry remain unchanged – protection and advancement of national interests of the Republic of Belarus in all vectors. We are ready to work everywhere and with everyone but only on an equal and mutually respecting footing,” the President stressed.
However, the head of state believes that to hit the targets “it is necessary to stop using outdated approaches, passively watching as the world changes”. “It is necessary to constantly seek new opportunities to bolster our position, to expand profitable ties and find reliable and new partners. Do your best. Figuratively speaking, do your utmost to fight for your national interests,” the President remarked.
Alexander Lukashenko said that it was a complicated time for the country. “The present election campaign is not the point nor future political events are. The current context of our relations with the West, which continue to be rather tense, is not a problem. Things are much more complicated,” the head of state believes.
“The global international situation is rapidly changing these days. The scale of international values and the system of institutions is being devalued. Approaches to resolving international disputes and conflicts are being radically revised. The world has face to face encountered an entire range of completely new serious challenges and threats, including transboundary ones,” the President noted.
Alexander Lukashenko stated that with its location in the center of Europe, at a crossroads of civilizational splits Belarus cannot stay outside these tendencies. “Moreover, their manifestation requires an adequate answer on our part. An answer, which is adequate in content and form. Just like you I sometimes wish to stay away from these processes. But, alas, it is not our destiny,” the head of state said.
According to the President of Belarus, the peculiarity of the present situation is that sources of Belarus’ main challenges and threats of economic, humanitarian, social, political, and classical military nature are outside the borders and are pushed into the country by individual world powers that pursue their own interests and are interested in destroying the stability that permeates the Belarusian society and the state nowadays.
This is why, Alexander Lukashenko believes, a profound evaluation of how effectively foreign policy efforts help develop Belarus is necessary. It is necessary to evaluate whether the management style, personnel resources, the nature of the work and the ideology environment in the diplomatic service are up to the tasks Belarus faces. The President remarked that it was equally true for the core of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry and for the most distant diplomatic institutions abroad.
“In order to grab our spot under the sun, to prove our right to self-determined development, we should not restrict ourselves to operating well-established diplomatic terms. We should run forward, every time thinking up new unconventional steps to protect our national interests. They may not be in the textbook but we cannot survive otherwise,” Alexander Lukashenko is convinced.
Promotion of foreign economic interests of the state should be the main objective of the Belarusian diplomatic service, according to the head of state. Given the open nature of the Belarusian economy, success in this area is important for the sustainability of the state, the well-being of Belarusian citizens. This should be the focus of every Belarusian diplomat from an attache to the minister.
“This does not mean that the political track should not be present in the work of the Foreign Ministry and foreign missions. But foreign trade indicators, the amount of attracted investments should be used as the main indicator when we evaluate the performance of every department chief in the diplomatic service. We do not have geopolitical ambitions and we do not want to make participation in political games and intrigues the focus of our international activities,” the head of state said.
“Therefore, our Foreign Ministry should roll up the sleeves and get down to meticulous and hard work. You need to work harder. You should fight for every ruble of investment into the country, for every niche for Belarusian goods on foreign markets,” the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko believes that the Foreign Ministry has some untapped reserves here. The ministry should become a truly powerful, authoritative body in implementing the foreign economic policy of the Belarusian state, the President stressed.
An active search for new partners and diversification of trade are among the most important objectives of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Lukashenko said.
“If we want to get something, we need to work in a new way,” the head of state emphasized.
He illustrated his point by some examples. One of them is cooperation with Venezuela. This country has become a springboard for promoting Belarusian products in Latin America. The country now offers a broad variety of products of the leading Belarusian industrial companies. The two countries are running successful projects in construction, gas services provision, petrochemical industry and other fields; however, there were virtually no relations some years ago. The head of state also mentioned cooperation with China and Turkmenistan.
“I understand that many Belarusian producers do not see anything beyond Russia and Kazakhstan taking into consideration the formation of the Single Economic Space, and beyond the European Union. It is unacceptable. In the era of global competition we should think globally. Belarusian goods and services should be sold all over the world,” the President emphasized.
Alexander Lukashenko believes that analytics and projections should become core objectives of the Foreign Ministry.
“Diplomats should help us look ahead, over the horizon; otherwise the country will end up in the slow lane. We cannot afford the luxury of being complacent, because we are not rich in mineral resources. Our brains and hands are our major assets and major instrument in protecting national interests,” the head of state said.
“Taking into consideration that the ICT is developing so fact that it changes the environment every three to five years, we need to recognize it in time and find useful international contacts, operation schemes and move to the vanguard. If some region is developing particularly fast, we need to be there in time,” the President said.
“Those who fail to get into the first cars of this rushing train, will never catch the train and will have to sweep railway sleepers,” the head of state added.
Alexander Lukashenko ordered to analyze the efficiency of deployment of Belarusian diplomatic missions and their staffing. “The most important and promising destinations should be staffed by proactive and competent people. Maybe, we should transfer valuable professionals to the countries where diplomatic missions are undermanned. We should have a closer look at the map of the world and identify places where they are looking forward to us, where our diplomatic presence will enhance competitiveness of our economy in order to promote goods and services, raise investments and technologies”, the head of state underlined.
The President made an instruction to submit proposals regarding optimization of Belarusian diplomatic missions at the end of the year. “We are a small European country and should be as mobile and efficient as possible,” the head of state said.
Alexander Lukashenko also drew attention to the image of Belarus.
“Do not be afraid to talk about Belarus loudly with the target audience despite all the criticism and hysteria. What is really important to an ordinary person living in Europe? It is simple: public security, environment, protection of the state border from cross-border crimes, stable neighbors,” the President said.
“There are things we can be proud of: Belarus is a reliable and predictable partner, a donor of international security and stability,” the head of state said. He reminded that for a long time Belarus has been maintaining smooth transit, including energy transit, for Europe; the country spends a lot on combating illegal migration, human trafficking and illicit drug trade and arms traffic.
The work on enhancing a positive perception of Belarus abroad and making the country more recognizable needs a quality breakthrough, the President stressed.
Alexander Lukashenko also focused on strategic vectors of Belarus' foreign policy.
When speaking about Russia, Alexander Lukashenko underlined that the country remains the closest and most reliable ally of Belarus, relations with which are based on a solid foundation of political, economic, and humanitarian relations.
The Union State of Belarus and Russia requires the closest attention and further development, remarked Alexander Lukashenko. “I know that Russia’s leadership adheres to the same approaches, too,” the President noted.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, it is necessary to step up the role and participation of Belarus in integration processes. It is necessary to put focus on securing favorable conditions for Belarus to participate in the Single Economic Space and the evolving Eurasian Economic Community. “It is important that these processes should be a real stimulus for the dynamic development of the Belarusian economy and better wellbeing of Belarusian citizens,” the President stressed.
“It is important to remember that while taking an active part in integration processes, we should continue taking steps with the utmost precision in order to avoid harming national interests,” the head of state warned. “Nobody doubts that the policy for strategic partnership with a powerful world leader – the People’s Republic of China – is the right one. It is necessary to fill this cooperation with content in all the areas we are interested in without delay,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed. Alexander Lukashenko said it was important not to miss the opportunities, which were emerging thanks to the creation of the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park and the opening of the unprecedented Chinese credit line.