To the west via Russia
Belarusian foreign minister Ural Latypov talks to Theodore Kim about how proposed closer ties to Russia are affecting western attitudes to Belarus.
Belarusia's relations with the west are clearly strained and adversely affecting the investment climate. What steps is the government taking to address this?
Much of the antagonism that may exist is due to misconceptions. We have absolutely no border disputes with any of our neighbouring countries. Lithuania, for instance, is a Nato candidate and, at the same time, one of our major trading partners. With Latvia, despite concerns about treatment of the Russian minority there, our trade is growing. Poland is a major trading partner with whom we share a common cultural and historical heritage. Ukraine is a major economic partner as well, although the economic crisis has reduced trade recently. Russia is our main economic partner with whom we have signed an agreement on union that envisions much closer cooperation while maintaining our political sovereignty.
There are some misunderstandings with the EU and the USA. We think this is because of two reasons. Firstly, we are the only ex-Soviet republic moving towards closer union with Russia.