Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Why Vladimir Makey canceled his New York visit?

Solidarity with Belarus information office

On May 13th -14th, Belarus Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Rybakov took part in the High-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Earlier it was reported that this meeting would be attended by Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey.

The lower Belarus representation at the UN meeting was due to a sharp deterioration of the Belarusian-Russian relations and on a larger scale, because of the Russo-American conflict over the expulsion of a U.S. diplomat. No explanations were provided publicly, which implies there is little coordination between the Belarus Foreign Ministry and Presidents Administration.

The decision to replace Minister Makey with his Deputy Rubakov was contrary to the previous agreements. On May 3rd, Belarus Foreign Ministry Press Service reported a meeting between Makey and the UN Resident-representative in Minsk Samarasinghe. During the meeting the parties discussed the meeting agenda between Makey and the UN Secretary General in New York. Makey could visit New York within the UN framework, regardless of the US visa sanctions against him.

Mackeys decision not to go to New York is most likely associated with the deterioration of the Russo-Belarusian relations, namely the deployment of the Russian air base. This conflict has manifested itself acutely after the scandalous informal meeting failure between Presidents Lukashenko and Putin in Sochi on May 10th. In addition, following U.S. Secretary of State Kerry visit to Moscow, Russo-American relations have sharply deteriorated in connection with the expulsion of a U.S. diplomat accused of spying.

This negative political context does not create favourable conditions for Belarus pro-active position in the West and the more so, in the United States, since Makeys visit to the UN would have had broader agenda at couloirs meetings with U.S. representatives to talk about potential dialogue resumption, as well as the most important issue cooperation with the IMF.

Potentially, Belarus leaders considered previous provocation (denial of the arrangements for the Russian air base deployment) was enough and decided not to deteriorate their relations with the Kremlin and reduced Belarus representation level at the UN meeting. The acute phase of the political relations between Minsk and Moscow was implied by the visit of Rosneft Head Igor Sechin to Minsk on May 16th, who passed greetings from Putin to Lukashenko. Oil supplies in 2013 were discussed during the meeting.

So far it is difficult to say whether Minsk was successful in selling its strategy to Moscow. Indirectly, the success might be confirmed by the statement of the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund Manager on May 15th that the allocation of the sixth tranche to Belarus would not depend on Belarus fulfillment of its privatization obligation (which Belarus had not fulfilled anyway). The Funds representative also did not rule out that Belarus can count on a new credit programme.

In addition, on May 15th the Belarusian Foreign Ministry did not accept the invitation to Mackey to take part in the Ministerial Meeting of the Eastern Partnership held in Krakow on May 17th. At the Meeting Belarus was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Kupchinov. This decision could have been explained by not dropped EU visa sanctions against Makey: Belarus considered unacceptable for the Belarusian Foreign Minister to participate in the meeting, as a matter of exception.

In any way, the failed Makeys visit to New York and to Krakow at the invitation by the Polish authorities, are damaging the Belarus reputation and the reputation of Minister Makey. Belarusian state media said nothing about the reasons behind these decisions, which firstly implies their urgent character and secondly, demonstrates the low level of coordination between the Foreign Ministry and the Presidential Administration on foreign policy matters.