22.10.2021

Security in Eastern Europe

Can small Eastern European country to influence events in the international policy set by the major powers-neighbors? This issue was discussed at the opening in Minsk of the conference on security.The forum “Eastern Europe: in search of security for all” held in Minsk from 23 to 25 may under the auspices of the non-peer initiatives “Minsk dialogue.” In the current forum was attended by 350 experts and officials from more than 40 countries. Among the participants there are the Secretary General of the OSCE Thomas Greminger, Deputy assistant Secretary General of NATO for political Affairs and security policy James Appathurai, former Secretary General of the CSTO Nikolay Bordyuzha, the General Director of the Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic sea States, Maira Mora, the ex-Chairman of the OSCE parliamentary Assembly, Christine Muttonen. May 24 in the conference will be attended by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.

The head of the “Minsk dialogue,” Eugene Progerman in an interview with DW said that this expert initiative started in 2015 as a neutral platform for discussions in the field of international relations and security. Now the forum has reached a qualitatively new level: “there are around 500 members – that means he’s five times more than our traditional formats.”

Minsk once again promoting the “Helsinki-2”

At the opening ceremony on 23 may, the foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei praised the representativeness of the participants as “evidence of growing interest in Minsk expert-discussion site”. The Minister, as the subsequent speakers, he stated the process of destruction of the former system of international relations established after the Second world war. According to him, last year’s initiative of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on the need to start a new large-scale international dialogue on security issues (“Helsinki-2”) aimed at finding ways of overcoming the security crisis in the world.

Turning to the expert community, Mr Mackay said: “We need the answer how to make the position between the centers of power – in between – was not the curse of fate, as it happened many times in the past, but also a factor of development, cooperation and prosperity.”

“Until the work previously established rules of international relations and there are no new rules of conduct – working power factor – explains Eugene Progerman. – The power is there from the big players, it is less from small players and, consequently, this means that at least the sovereignty of the States, including Belarus, can be put on the line of confrontation”.

Do you have Eastern European voice

Program Director for Belarus of the German Foundation the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) Wolfgang Zender (Wolfgang Sender), one of the main partners of the forum, in his welcoming speech said that Minsk has decided to intensify its activities in strengthening international order and regional security. “Belarus is strengthening its own stability, stability, sovereignty and independence through a more active participation at the international level. This ultimately serves as regional stability and is of great value for NATO, for the EU and for all the neighbors of Belarus”, – said the representative of the KAS.

Wolfgang Zender was the moderator of the discussion about the vision security of small Eastern European States. He directly raised the question: do the Eastern Europe with sufficient voice to influence decision-making in this area?

Deputy foreign Minister of Belarus Oleg Kravchenko noted that “the position of countries such as ours, less and less taken into account – as this was common during the cold war, when two major countries have defined the situation in the world.”

According to the Belarusian diplomat, “we (small countries. – Ed.) expect us to join one side or the other of the conflict… the situation forces us to go to choices and make the choices we do not want to do.” The representative of the foreign Ministry of Belarus on a direct question Wolfgang Zehnder acknowledged that official Minsk considers it particularly important military aspects of security in Eastern Europe.

The war in the Donbass should not be removed from the agenda

Director of the German Center for East European and international studies (ZOiS) Sasse Gwendolyn (Gwendolyn Sasse) called that on the background of other stimuli goes with the agenda of the war in the Donbass. “War is, in fact, in the heart of Europe. I am constantly surprised how little attention is paid to these issues,” she said.

Also, the analyst noted that the region has a number of other “frozen conflicts”, and many forget about them. Thus, according to Gwendolyn Sasse, “it is wrong to assume that these conflicts do frozen – they evolve. “And it would be inappropriate to talk about the war in the Donbass as a conflict that can be frozen,” said she, without offering, however, ready-made recipes, like no other of the participants.

The head of the Minsk Center for strategic and political studies Arseniy sivitsky in an interview with DW summed up the panel discussion. According to him, was indicative that the conversation mainly revolved around relations between the United States and China. “The discussions have made clear the fact that still in the discourse on international relations prevail outdated views about the fundamental and decisive influence of large or great powers in international relations,” said a Minsk-based analyst.

According to him, from the countries themselves – whether they are large or small depends not only how they fit into the new world that is taking shape before our eyes, but also what initiatives they will take to the international stage.

“The example of Belarus in this regard I think is significant – the average country in Central Europe, lying between two rival geopolitical centers (Russia and the collective West), however, formulates such initiatives, which are aimed at solving not only their own internal problems, but also regional and even global scale,” said Arseniy sivitsky, referring to “Helsinki-2”.

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