According to Uladzimir Makei, the reason was the “politicized approach of partners”, BelTA informs.
Foreign Minister Makei said that this is a response to sanctions coming from some countries, including the European Union.
“Of course, we cannot leave this kind of thing unanswered. From our side, the corresponding sanctions lists have also been expanded to include relevant persons from all EU countries. We proposed to suspend the work of the Belarus-European Union coordination group, within the framework of which various issues of our interaction were discussed,” Makei explained.
Other measures include reducing the level of Belarus’ representation in the Eastern Partnership.
This means, Makei explained, that at the events of the Eastern Partnership Belarus will be represented not by the heads of ministries, but by their experts. If a summit is held, issues related to Belarus will most likely be discussed at the level of Belarus’ permanent representative to the European Union.
“In principle, we have always been determined, are determined and will be determined to ensure that the sanctions rhetoric left our agenda,” he continued. “But, unfortunately, the actions of our partners leave us nothing else but to adequately respond to these negative steps towards Belarus. I repeat: we were not the initiators of these steps. We only adequately respond to those negative statements and concrete actions of our Western partners related to interference in the internal affairs of Belarus,” says Makei.
But experts are inclined to believe that this behavior of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry is nothing more than a bluff.
“As a political signal, the news can get strong. But as an economic component, participation in the Eastern Partnership is highly overestimated by the activists of the third sector. For them, the EU policy towards the countries of the former USSR is extremely important, for the authorities it is not. And such a decision can be called, on the one hand, a statement of fact, and on the other, a policy of raising bets. At the same time, if you look at the practical aspect of Belarus’ participation in the Eastern Partnership over the past 4 years (since the beginning of participation), there are not so many concrete results,” political analyst Volha Kharlamava emphasizes.
She notes that after the beginning of the active phase of the political crisis and the introduction of the first sanctions, the Eastern Partnership forums, as well as less representative platforms established within the framework of this policy, could become a place for discussing the “Belarusian issue”.
But the official Minsk decided to strain relationship, declaring that it lowers the “level of participation”.
“The first thing that Lukashenka’s entourage is counting on is the format of the return. It’s one thing when you were “asked not to go,” and it’s another thing if you didn’t go yourself. A possible initiative to return to the previous level of communication (at the right time) will be perceived by European officials as a positive signal. And there may be no additional requirements for dialogue,” says Kharlamava.
Volha Kharlamava is convinced that this decision is an attempt to bluff. After the stabilization of the situation and the start of the “selling the dialogue on the Constitution” to the EU countries, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry will issue good news of the decision to return to the old format of work within the framework of the Eastern Partnership.