The Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS) presents the fifteenth issue of Belarus' Foreign Policy Index, which analyses the evolution of the five foreign policy priorities of the country in July and August 2013.
The most significant shift during those two months is the narrowing of the Russian vector , caused primarily by the “potash crisis”. Experts suggest, that official Minsk will be trying to minimize the political aftermath of the conflict. However, the harshness of the Belarusian authorities will likely prompt Russia to take measures beyond the political field. Nevertheless, the military and technical cooperation between the two countries remains stable.
Diplomatic contacts between Minsk and the European Union are active and likely to continue in the same path. The trend has remained in place for a year now, suggesting that the process to coordinate positions is very slow, challenging and painstaking. Meanwhile, Minsk makes attempts to work with separate EU member states. Chances are high that diplomatic contacts will be stepped up following the holiday season and ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit scheduled for this November. The Belarusian-Russian potash scandal can further spur Belarus’s engagement with the EU.
The relationship between Belarus and China saw a massive boost in political contacts as a result of narrowing area for maneuver in alternative areas of Belarusian foreign policy. However, the results of this intensification are limited to general political statements and produce no positive impact on the foreign trade figures. The lop-sided strengthening of the Chinese vector up until the end of 2013 will likely further aggravate Belarus’s foreign trade situation. China will obviously adopt a neutral position regarding Belarus’s relationship with Russia and the European Union.
Political tensions in the Middle East have de facto crossed the entire region out of the list of Belarus’s foreign policy priorities. Most of the traditional Belarusian partners in the region are going through either internal or external crises. A new era in Belarus’s foreign policy becomes increasingly explicit and is characterized by harder efforts to penetrate the markets of Southeast Asia and Africa. The country seeks new mechanisms of cooperation with its larger partners – Russia, China and Venezuela – in order to further move to the markets of the Third World.
Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s blitz-visit to Ukraine helped to cure some of the most acute bilateral problems; and the two countries were doing their best to avoid new conflicts. At the moment, both countries are lacking mutually benefiting subjects for dialogue, which has resulted in its temporary freezing. Objectively, Ukraine and Belarus are rivals in various areas both commercially and geopolitically. The ground for new trade conflicts between Kyiv and Minsk remain due to adverse business interests of both countries.
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