Allow me to welcome you on Belarusian soil, which has been intentionally chosen a place for the meeting on security and cooperation issues between Belarus, Russia and Poland. Apart from the obvious geographical and transportation prerequisites, Belarus' own destiny and the present political logics have made this country a vital component of the eastern segment of pan-European security.
Another noteworthy fact is that Belarus is an integral part of the Russia-Poland relations, stable deve-lopment of which largely determines stability of not just these three countries but also, without exaggeration, of the whole European region.
The topicality of our meeting is clear. Let us be ho-nest: the present level of relations between Belarus and Russia, on the one hand, and Poland on the other, leaves much to be desired, to put it mildly. Consequently, it proves the necessity of coming together in search of common ground. The bloody trace of the elapsing 20th century in Europe and our nations and the memories of countless victims among our countrymen leave us no reasonable choice but to search for ways of cooperation.
We have to define clearly what brings us apart to determine what can unite us. In our opinion, the answer is clear: it is the Belarusian-Polish and Polish-Russian (Kaliningrad sector) borders that became NATO borders not long ago.
It should be emphasised from the very beginning that no one doubts as to the right of any sovereign state and, of course, the right of Poland to choose the system, ways and methods of security provision that best suit its national interests. We see and understand the complicated historic way that has led Poland to this choice. One cannot but consider uneasy reasons and circumstances that have influenced the choice made by Warsaw. In fact, this decision has been made not just by the Polish government, but by the Polish people as well.
Having made this choice, Poland is deemed to undertake serious commitments to safeguard not just their own national security, but also that of its neighbours, to a large extent - of all Europeans. This is an honourable, but also a rather burdensome responsibility.
Having said that being a NATO member Poland pledged seriously to provide for its neighbours' security, including that of Belarus and Russia, I did not make a slip of the tongue. With objective approach to the situation the question has to be put like that.
Such conclusion is first of all caused by the indisputable axiom that the European security can only gain right for this name if it is one and indivisible. The contemporary interrelated world does not allow security of one nation to be gained at the expense of security of another. A state that joins a military-political union shall not have the right for the higher security level than that of its non-member neighbours. Otherwise, the countries being due to a number of reasons non-members of the union will justifiably want to raise their security level. In turn, it can be perceived as a threat to the security of the union and its members.
This can draw us into a new vicious circle, a new Cold War or arms race. And we have to admit honestly that our nations have already started approaching this dangerous line.
Therefore, it is high time for us to frankly clarify the security problems that are presently of Belarus', Russia's and Poland's concern, determine ways to resolve them, thus justifying the main responsibility delegated to us by the History on the turn of the centuries and millennia - the responsibility to leave the notions of "iron curtain" and "demarcation line" in history textbooks rather than in the political vocabulary of the 21st century.
Belarus makes every effort to provide for security of its neighbours and the European continent as a whole. Our country volunteered to renounce the nuclear status and withdrew all nuclear warheads and delivery means from its territory.
Belarus has accurately fulfilled its obligations under the CFE Treaty having reduced 2.8 times
more armaments and military equipment than Great Britain, France and the United States combined.
In other words, there is no threat emanating from Belarus to its neighbouring states, including Poland.
That is how Belarus puts into practice its reiterated announcements about its intentions to develop the ever-increasing cooperation with Poland in the area of common national and regional security. In our view, this includes a wide range of issues beyond the area of military and defence activities.
The bitter contemporary experience shows that international terrorism, transnational crime, drug trade and illegal migration have become a serious destabilising factor. Belarus, Russia, Poland, other European nations and common European institutions are equally vexed with these new security challenges. Apparently, they make part of NATO's concerns too.
Therefore, our nations are, so to say, destined to cooperation on a whole range of security problems. Belarus is ready for this cooperation. Although we should not make statements for others, Russia, in our opinion, as our closest ally is also aimed at constructive activities in this area.
There is just one thing that is truly important. We have to reject ungrounded suspicions, attempts to impose our own views on others and temptations to rely on a more powerful partners' and allies' potential. Our discrepancies should not push into the background the idea that following our own way we have one common goal - stable security on the whole European continent and in each European state.
* Alexander Yegorov , Director, Development and Security Research Institute, Minsk.