Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

Belarus seeks closer ties with Muslim world, Lukashenka says

By Andrey Serada, BelaPAN

Belarus does not want to limit its international cooperation to relations with European countries and seeks to forge closer ties with the Muslim world, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Thursday, speaking at a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.

The intention to strengthen ties with the Muslim world is an absolutely conscious choice that Belarus has constantly stuck to, the governments news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.

While conducting a multi-vector policy and [a policy of] openness to the external world and not wishing to confine ourselves to the narrow bounds of Eurocentrism, we were the only European country back in the late 1990s to become a full-fledged member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus had close relations and shared positions on key international issues with many Muslim countries. In this context, he said, granting Belarus the status of observer in the OIC would become a logical step opening up new opportunities for developing mutually beneficial cooperation.

Belarus will always be a reliable and predictable partner for Muslim countries, he stressed.

Minsk shares the OICs universal principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and respect for their territorial integrity, opposes the use of military force and supports efforts to resolve armed conflicts peacefully, according to Mr. Lukashenka.

The fact that Belarus and OIC members share stances on many fundamental issues allows us to promote through joint efforts common traditional family values, defend the diversity of ways of progressive development, boost efforts in fight against human trafficking, cooperate within the Alliance of Civilizations global initiative, said Mr. Lukashenka.