Foreign Policy and Security Research Center held a joint seminar with researchers of the Faculty of International Relations (Belarusian State University, Minsk).
As acknowledged by the Dean of the Faculty of International Relations Victor Shadurski, it was “the experience of cooperation with NGO, civil society organization”, and “we will expand this experience by further joint discussions between representatives of different views”.
Indeed, the discussion has been opened at a round-table: whether there has been a shift in the Belarusian foreign policy or there is little evidence for such a conclusion; on what ground the relations between Belarus and Russia are currently based; what is the role of integrational structures in the former Soviet Union; to what extent relations between Belarus and Union can be fundamentally changed.
No strangers to the Faculty of International Relationshas founded the NGO Foreign Policy and Security Research Center - so disputes was to a large extentheld in a calm atmosphere at this first round-table. However, we can not say that the round table participants could not express their views freelywhen it varied from the position of the official Minsk. Victor Shadurski did not look as superior, but simply as concerned member of the debate. Only once during the speech of Professor Vladimir Snapkovsky, the Dean allowed himself to remark, that it was not sound the position of the faculty but particular scientist.
Vladimir Snapkovsky acknowledged that Russia has complicated mutual relations with Belarus, but Belarus is the only true ally of Russia in the west. But then Professor put another nail in the coffin of the Union State of Russia and Belarus: “Belarus and Russia has been independent for 18 years. Until now, these two countries have not found an optimal model of relations.They tried to put integration into practice, but historians, serious analysts, believe that this idea exploit now for propaganda purposes only...”. Professor Snapkovsky advised leading statesmen of both countries to seek optimal model of relations.
Repeatedly throughout the debate there has been noted that the West is always present in the context of relations between Belarus and Russia, and Russia is always present in the context of relations between Belarus with the EU and with the U.S.. Professor Snapkovsky believes that “Russia could not like relationship improvement between Belarus and the West, because in that case Russia is losing clout on Belarus. On the other hand, Belarus has a room for manoeuvre in that case”.
The discussion was held on the day following the visit of the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union Javier Solana to Minsk, therefore, belarusian scientists readily discussed the warming of relations with the West and speculated how long-lived it will be.Professor Snapkovsky believes the current warming trend is an example of normaldiplomacy, when the country looking for the ways to mainain their interests. But his colleague in the Faculty of International RelationsProfessor Ulianna Malevich generally concluded the foreign policy reorientation of Belarus. In support of this point of view Professor Ulianna Malevich mentioned a shift from intensive participation in the Non-Aligned Movement, a cooling of relations with China, as well as “diversification of relations with Russia - both political and economic.” The fourth factor professor mentioned was strengthening of relations with neighboring states. According to Ulianna Malevich, now European partnership is one of external landmarks for Belarus. The scientist called retargeting of resources as the cause of this shift. The professor said that relations with Russia remain essential, but leadership of our state do not set this relations at the forefront now. That is, foreign policy reorientation is taking place, there are appearing some new aspects of foreign policy in our country.