Belarus Foreign Policy Index №22 (September-October 2014)

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BISS presents the twenty-second issue of Belarus’ Foreign Policy Index, which explores the country’s five foreign policy dimensions in September and October 2014, and a special “Foreign Policy Accent” supplement to the Index, which is dedicated Belarus and the USA relationships.

Belarus ratified the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Treaty, albeit with an express proviso that it would meet all of its obligations in the framework of the bloc only if all trade barriers are completely removed. Despite this move to deepen the integration process, there is still plenty of room for tensions to build, one example being the discord over the Russian tax maneuver in the oil sector, as well as the re-export of the products, to which Russia had applied an import ban.

Noteworthy in the relationships with the European Union is the significant number of consultations between the Foreign Ministries of Belarus and EU member states. As a result of these activities, the EU dimension of the Index for the first time came up to the Russian dimension, settling at 22 points. Efforts to flesh out the bilateral agenda continued, and the third round of consultations on modernization was held.

The relationship between Belarus and China became an important source of disillusionment for the Belarusian authorities. In this context, China had to take demonstrative steps to try to resolve the accumulated bilateral issues. These moves are designed to seek to extend the favored treatment for China in Belarus for as long as possible.

Belarusian foreign policy efforts in the developing world were as intense as never before (with 29 points). Moreover, many of those activities were reported in the regions that were previously “undiscovered” by Belarus’s foreign policy. The trend towards the search for new solutions in conditions of the rapidly changing international situation became even more apparent.

The relationship with Ukraine continued to develop at an impressive pace. Belarus is interested in keeping one of its largest sales markets, whereas Kyiv wishes to ensure the maximum security of its northern border and neutralization of Russia’s attempts to impose trade limitations. Belarus’s transit significance is growing, while Russia’s arrangements to limit imports from Ukraine enable Minsk to fill the vacant market niches.

In the “Foreign Policy Accent” Dzianis Melyantsou focuses on Belarus and the USA relationships. Over the last two years, we have witnessed a marked increase in the number of contacts between the two countries, some of them being truly unprecedented against the modest backdrop of the bilateral relationship. An obvious reason for the intensified contacts would be the standard electoral cycle, when the Belarusian authorities traditionally take steps to ‘secure the home front’ in the run-up to a presidential election and seek to improve their relationships with both Russia and the West. However, the event analysis shows that the United States seems to reciprocate Belarus’s efforts this time. It appears that the attempt to ‘unfreeze’ the relations with Washington is based upon a firmer ground of mutual concern and the process is unfolding amid crucial geopolitical changes in the region, which affect Belarus as well. Under certain conditions, all of this can contribute to the restoration of a full diplomatic relationship between Belarus and the United States.

Read the full texts of the Index and the Foreign Policy Accent in PDF