Comment by the Information and Press Department on the upcoming working visit by Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei
On November 14−15, Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei will make a working visit to Russia at the invitation of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The ministers will discuss a broad range of bilateral cooperation issues and a schedule for upcoming meetings, as well as exchange opinions on current international and regional topics.
They will focus on development prospects within the framework of integration associations, including the EAEU, the CIS, as well as the CSTO with due regard for the Belarusian chairmanship of this organisation.
The visit’s agenda also includes the signing of a programme of cooperative foreign policy actions of states party to the Union State Treaty for 2018−2019, as well as a plan of consultations between the foreign ministries of Russia and Belarus for 2018.
Russia and Belarus are strategic allies. Relations between the countries are based on years of friendship and cooperation and are noted for a high level of mutual trust and assistance. Moscow and Minsk coordinate their activities at the UN, the OSCE and other multilateral organisations and forums. Their constructive dialogue is based on the similarity or coincidence of views on the majority of current global issues, including the development of a multipolar world order and the UN’s central role in international affairs.
In June this year, Russia and Belarus marked 25 years of diplomatic relations. Mr Makei’s visit to Moscow on June 4−5 was timed to coincide with this date and included a joint meeting of the foreign ministry collegiums, the signing of a joint ministerial statement on this date, as well as an exhibit of archival photographs and documents.
Russian-Belarusian relations include an intensive political dialogue. This year, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko have met six times and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Andrey Kobyakov have met seven times.
Russia is the main trade and economic partner of Belarus. It accounts for some 50 per cent of Belarusian foreign trade (51.5 per cent for January through September 2017). Belarus is first in Russia’s trade with the CIS countries and is fourth in Russia’s trade with other countries (about 5 per cent).
Bilateral trade from January through September 2017 amounted to $23.2 billion, or 22.7 per cent more than the same period in 2016 ($18.91 billion). Russian exports to Belarus in this period totalled $13.73 billion, and imports from Belarus $9.47 billion.
Bilateral economic cooperation focuses on the implementation of joint investment projects. The largest of these is Rosatom’s 2400 MW nuclear power station project in Belarus, which is based on post-Fukushima technology.
Interregional cooperation is a major element of Russian-Belarusian relations. Over 80 Russian regions have trade and economic ties with Belarus. Interregional cooperation is promoted by the annual Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions, which was held for the first time in 2014 at the initiative of the upper houses of the two countries’ parliaments. The Fourth Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions held in Moscow on June 29−30, 2017 focused on integration development in high technology, innovation and the information society. Interregional agreements and business contracts worth over $450 million were signed during the forum and the accompanying industrial exhibition.
Russia and Belarus maintain close ties in education, science and culture. Some humanitarian, research, technological and other projects are funded by the Union State budget. An impressive example of bilateral cooperation in education is Belarusian-Russian University in Mogilev, which was established under an intergovernmental agreement.
Delegates from Russian regions attend the annual Slavic Bazaar in Vitebsk international arts festival. Another traditional event is Russian and Belarusian Culture Days, as well as region and city days. For example, Belarus hosted Russian Spiritual Culture Days in June 2015 and Moscow Days events in June 2016. Moscow hosted Belarusian Culture Days in 2016 and Minsk Days in October 2017.