Belarus has since last year stepped up its WTO accession talks, the news agency Belapan cited Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey as saying today. Speaking at a conference on economic security in Minsk, Makey said documents on completing bilateral talks were signed with Japan and South Korea in 2016. Belarus is going to complete talks with the remaining 10-15 countries, he said. Makey also expressed his gratitude to the US and the EU for supporting Belarus in the WTO accession process. We recall that Belarus several years ago kept accusing the US of blocking the talks. But last spring, authoritarian President Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the government to step up WTO entry talks.
Commenting on relations with neighbors, Makey said it has been difficult for Belarus to balance between Russia and the West because of strained relations between them recently. He said Belarus would be happy to offer ideas to help build a dialogue between the two opponents. Belarus has been relying on Russia for oil for its refineries and loans for its economy. At the same time, Belarus’s relations with the West have improved over 2014-2017, as Lukashenko freed political prisoners and refused to back Russia in its war against Ukraine.