VLADIMIR, August 24. /TASS/. The normalization of relations between Belarus and the West meets Russia’s interests, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a forum in the Vladimir region, central Russia, on Monday.
"We are developing relations with all who are ready for that on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect. We have no prejudices. Moreover, we are interested in the normalization of relations between Belarus and the West," Lavrov said.
"All these years during my ministerial tenure Belarus has been subjected to various Western sanctions. During the meetings with the European Union, with the Americans we said that this was a dead-end road, that it was necessary not to isolate [it] but to involve [in dialogue]. We actively sought, with some success, the involvement of Belarus in the work of the Council of Europe, whose member it is yet to become," the minister said.
On August 22 Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko took a decision to pardon and release from prison former presidential candidate Nikolay Statkevich. In response, the European Union said the EU foreign ministers would consider the possibility of suspending sanctions against Belarus during their informal meeting in Luxembourg on September 4 and 5. The US Department of State has described the move as an important step towards the normalization of relations between Minsk and Washington.
Saying that relations between Belarus and the West impair Russia’s interests means acting in accordance with the black-and-white perception of the modern world, which is richer and much more diverse, Russian Foreign Minister went on to say.
"Nowadays, many say that Russia, having encountered the attitude of the West, turns to the east, to Asia and the Pacific," the minister said. According to him, Belarus is told that it is turning to the West. "This is the mentality of those who do not understand the logic other than ‘friend-or-foe.’ You are either with us or against us. This is precisely what lies at the heart of the majority of problems in the European region. This is what contravenes political declarations aimed at ensuring equal and indivisible security, when no one is working against the security of others, and when everyone has the right to choose who to be friends with, but within the common and indivisible security, " Lavrov noted.
"Our answer is very simple, it is part of Russia’s Foreign Policy concept and the relevant concepts of Belarus," the minister said. "We are developing relations with all who are ready for that on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect. We have no prejudices. Moreover, we are interested in the normalization of relations between Belarus and the West," Lavrov said.