9 Dec 2017 12:04

Minsk ready to get involved in implementation of Donbas peacekeeping idea - Belarusian foreign minister

MINSK. Dec 9 (Interfax) - Belarus is ready to make proposals on implementing the idea of peacekeeping in the east of Ukraine, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said.

"We are definitely ready to join in, as long as it is acceptable for the other parties. Moreover, I think that we, too, will be submitting our proposals for the idea to be realized, based of course on its acceptability for all parties," Makei said in an interview with the Belarusian television channel Current Time.

"This is a chance, albeit a small one, to lend some impetus, however small, to the efforts to reduce tensions in that region," Makei said.

Overall, Belarusian welcomes and will welcome any steps conducive to swift settlement of the Donbas conflict, he said.

"We don't want this conflict in eastern Ukraine to become frozen like in Transdniestria, Nagorn-Karabakh and several others [regions]," Makei said, stressing that, "this is absolutely not in Belarusian interests."

"Because for us Ukraine is a hugely important trade and economic partner. During better years, our trade reached $8 billion. Today, of course, this level is much lower," Makei said.

Belarus absolutely supports the idea of peacekeeping, as long as it is acceptable for all parties involved, he said.

When asked how Minsk sees peacekeepers entering the east of Ukraine, across the dividing line or through the Russian border, Makei said: "A while ago the Belarusian president met with both Ukrainian and Russian representatives who were engaged in the negotiation on this conflict. It was Mr. [Leonid] Kuchma, and Mr. Demchenko, who is now an advisor to the Ukrainian president; from the Russian side, there was Mr. Surkov."

"The president of Belarus said at the time that we are ready to provide control on the Ukrainian-Russian border with our own forces, our capabilities, the capabilities of our armed forces," Makei said.

"It is clear that this was, say, a hypothetic possibility, but we were ready back then to make this step because we knew that something needed to be done. But unfortunately, at the time - this was a couple of years ago - this was not acceptable for either side. For a variety of reasons," the minister said.

"But speaking of it now, I would not like to offend anyone, because we have good relations with our Ukrainian friends and good relations with Russian partners. It seems to us that the solution needed right now, it could be a compromised-based decision that would at least appease the situation and allow [the parties] to move further. But it is clear that if a country has a territory, it must be controlled, border control must, of course, be ensured," Makei said.