The foreign policy of the Republic of Belarus serves to create an external environment conducive to domestic social and economic growth, which would underpin the continued improvement of the quality of life of the Belarusian people. In the international arena, the Republic of Belarus pursues a balanced and multi-directed policy which has proved effective and viable.
Belarus has established diplomatic relations with 166 countries. Belarus has 60 diplomatic missions in 47 countries, including 45 embassies, two permanent missions to international organizations, seven consulates-general, 1 consulate, and 12 embassy branch offices.
There are 43 embassies, two embassy branches, a trade representative office, 20 consular establishments (including honorary consuls) of foreign states, 13 representative offices of international organizations in Belarus. Seventy-six nonresident ambassadors are accredited in Belarus.
Belarus is signatory to over 3,000 international documents.
Belarus makes a significant contribution to global, regional, and sub-regional processes. Belarus is at the vanguard of the international effort against trafficking in people and drugs, illegal migration. Belarus has always rejected double standards and ultimatums against nations and advocated international initiatives to protect the rights of children, women, and the elderly.
The mentality of the Belarusian people, the specifics of modern-day international relations and economic pragmatism underpin Belarus's choice of a multi-directed constructive foreign policy. The country seeks to engage in all foreign policy areas. The multi-directed foreign policy fully serves the national development goals.
The Republic of Belarus believes that the world order in the twenty-first century should be based on joint participation of nations in addressing major problems in strict accordance with the UN Charter and international law. The stability in international relations can be achieved by ensuring real equal rights of all its subjects, mutual respect, and mutually beneficial cooperation. This would reinforce the security in political, military, economic, humanitarian and other areas for all members of the international community.
Belarus's Contribution to Disarmament and International and Regional Security
As one of the states-founders of the United Nations Organization, Belarus supports the UN policy in promoting international peace and security, strengthening and developing the existing international regimes of non-proliferation and destruction of arsenals of WMD.
Being a responsible adherent of the non-proliferation policy, Belarus has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention, the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missiles Proliferation and is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
In 1995 Belarus signed a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), joined the IAEA conventions on physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear security.
The Republic of Belarus actively cooperates with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
In bilateral relations, Belarus focuses on maintaining and improving friendly and mutually beneficial ties with its neighbors.
Russia is Belarus's main trading partner. Russia is a strategically important partner for Belarus. It is also important that while being allies, Belarus and Russia remain sovereign states and full-fledged subjects of international law.
Russia is Belarus's major supplier of energy resources, and the second largest export destination after the European Union. Belarus is Russia's sixth largest trading partner. In 2009 the trade between Belarus and Russia amounted to $23.4 billion.
Cooperation with the CIS member states is one of Belarus's major foreign policy priorities due to a number of historical, economic, political and cultural factors.
In 2009 the CIS member states (Russia not included) accounted for 8.2 percent of the total international trade of the Republic of Belarus. In 2009, with the global financial crisis in full swing, trade with the CIS member states (Russia not included) totaled $4.1 billion. In addition to Russia, Belarus's key trading partners are Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Turkmenistan. They account for 91 percent of Belarusian export to the CIS (Russia not included).
Belarus attaches primary attention to cooperation with the European Union.
Consistent efforts of Belarus to normalize a political dialogue with the European Union helped reverse the negative trends in the relations with the EU. Belarus remains committed to transforming the political relations with the EU into a dialogue and pragmatic partnership, based on realism, healthy pragmatism and mutual respect.
Such mutual interests as cross-border cooperation, counteracting illegal migration, trafficking in people and organized crime, strategic transit, regional contacts, environmental and cultural cooperation serve as an additional impetus for the development of constructive relations between the Republic of Belarus and the European Union in the aforementioned areas.
The EU Eastern Partnership Initiative, which involves Belarus, provides additional opportunities for further rapprochement. The initiative is aimed at expanding the cooperation between the European Union and six former Soviet republics (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan). The Republic of Belarus promotes equal mutually beneficial relations with the European Union. The most important avenues of cooperation are trade and economic interaction. The trade and economic relations between the EU and Belarus have been increasingly vibrant lately. Since 2000 the Belarusian export to the EU has increased more than 20 times. In 2009 the EU accounted for 43.6 percent of Belarus's exports. In this respect the European countries are continuously ahead of the Russian Federation. In terms of the volume of trade, Belarus's main trading partners in the EU are the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, Latvia, Italy, Lithuania, France, Belgium, and the Czech Republic.
Belarus considers Asian and African countries to be promising political and economic partners. The potential of these relations rests on similar views on international issues, actual agreements and warm attitude to the Republic Belarus. In 2008-2009 Belarus reinforced its relations with the partners along Belarus's foreign policy arc in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Belarus maintained high-level and top-level contacts with China, Iran, Vietnam, Libya, Syria, Qatar, Egypt, UAE, Oman, and South Africa, which cemented the agreements on certain projects. In 2009 the trade between Belarus with Asian and African countries amounted to $3.9 billion.
China occupies a special place on the list of Belarus's foreign policy priorities. The Belarusian-Chinese dialogue, which has evolved into a strategic partnership, remains intensive and is conducted in a spirit of friendship and confidence. Belarus and China maintain large-scale trade and economic cooperation, implement multi-million investment projects. In 2009 China ranked fifth in Belarus's trade turnover, eleventh in export and second in import among the non-CIS countries.
The relations of the Republic of Belarus with Latin America have reached a new level. Enhancing comprehensive cooperation with Venezuela, implementation of joint projects, primarily in oil production, is an important avenue of Belarus's foreign policy in Latin America. The capacity and solvency of the Venezuelan market, and the fact that the two economies complement each other open up great prospects for stepping up the bilateral economic cooperation and promoting Belarusian export in the region.
Belarus has stepped up interstate cooperation with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, and other states of the region. In 2009 the trade between Belarus and the Latin American countries surpassed $1 billion.
The comprehensive cooperation with the United States of America meets Belarus's interests. Understanding that Belarus and the United States have not used the potential of their relationship to the full yet, the Republic of Belarus calls on the United States to engage in a constructive dialogue based on equal rights and mutual respect.
Despite certain political disagreements, the trade and economic relations between Belarus and the United States have been gradually developing. The United States is one of Belarus's biggest trading partners, ranking fifth or sixth in terms of trade with the non-CIS countries ($471 million in 2009). The US investments in Belarus amounted to $53.9 million in 2009.
The United States is one of largest investors in Belarus in terms of authorized capital investments and is ahead of many western states in terms of the number of joint ventures and foreign companies. Many American charity organizations provide assistance to Belarus to deal with the Chernobyl consequences. In 2009 the United States was one of the biggest foreign aid donors.
Belarus's Participation in International Organizations, Interaction with Regional Organizations
The Republic of Belarus is a staunch supporter of prioritizing multilateralism in resolving the most pressing international problems. Modern challenges and threats, be it terrorism, climate change or financial and economic crisis, are truly trans-boundary issues. We can tackle them only by taking prudent collective decisions and concerted joint action to implement these decisions.
In these circumstances, Belarus prioritizes multilateral diplomacy and effective work within the framework of international organizations.
Belarus is a full-fledged member of more than 100 universal-type and specialist international organizations. In 1945 Belarus became one of founding members of the United Nations Organization.
The turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries was a challenging period for the United Nations as the world was in fact unipolar. During this period, Belarus was among the countries actively advocating the leading role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security, as well as addressing a range of other urgent issues of the day. By being consistent in our actions, steadfast in our positions, constructive and timely in our initiatives, as well as by aspiring to make a contribution to the joint effort, we have earned wider recognition within the United Nations and expanded the circle of our friends and like-minded partners.
The election of Belarus to a range of elected bodies of the UN system attests to the high international prestige of the country. Belarus was elected to the Commission on Sustainable Development for 2010-2013, Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for 2010-2012, UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) for 2010 and for 2013-2016, Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) for 2010-2013 and also Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for 2010-2012.
Belarus actively participates in the collective effort to address a full range of global issues. At the 64th session of the UN General Assembly (opened on 15 September 2009) the Belarusian delegation offered the international community several promising "engines" to promote further social and economic growth. One of them is clean or the so-called green technology. In this respect Belarus suggested forging an effective global mechanism for increasing the availability of new and renewable energy technologies for developing nations and countries with economies in transition.
Belarus has recently come up with a new initiative of encouraging closer cooperation with and among middle-income countries. For many years the United Nations has been overlooking the problems hampering the sustainable development of this big group of countries and has done little to resolve them. As a result we now have a situation when the recovery of the global economy is increasingly dependant on the health of the economies of this very group of nations.
A leader in encouraging stronger global action against human trafficking,
Belarus has initiated many UNGA resolutions on this issue since 2006.
Belarus also seeks to attract financial resources and technical aid for the social and economic development. For example, the specialized agencies, funds and programs of the UN system will allocate $490 million for international technical assistance projects in Belarus in 2011-2015. And this does not include the lending programs sponsored by the International Monetary Fund.
Belarus is a co-founder of a large regional organization - the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which unites 12 republics of the former Soviet Union. The CIS has its headquarters in Minsk. In March 1994 the CIS was awarded an observer status at the UN.
In 2000 the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan signed a treaty to found the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC).
Participation in regional security programs, first of all, in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), is an important component of Belarus's foreign policy. The CSTO includes Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Belarus views the CSTO as an organization able to protect the national interests of its member states.
Cooperation with NATO within the framework of existing mechanisms of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and the Partnership for Peace Program is aimed at developing a consistent constructive dialogue for better European and international security.
Belarus has been a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) since 1992. Belarus takes an active part in working out the most important documents and resolutions of the OSCE, contributing to the development of the European dialogue on security issues.
Belarus is the only European member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Together with its partners in the NAM, Belarus stands against the use of double standards in international politics, calls for building a fair international economic order, for effective integration of developing countries and transition economies into the global economy; it also advocates the uniqueness and versatility of the ways of social, economic, and political development of the mankind.
At a session in Yekaterinburg in June 2009 the leaders of the states-parties to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) took a decision to award Belarus the status of a SCO dialogue partner. The status allows joining the SCO in certain areas, taking part in working sessions and groups. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a sub-regional international organization uniting six states: Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Customs Code of the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan entered into force on 6 July 2010. A corresponding decision was envisaged in the joint statement of the heads of the Customs Union member-states at a session of the EurAsEC Interstate Council (supreme body of the Customs Union) in Astana
on 5 July 2010.
President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Signing of the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism