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SCO and BRICS: Belarus has something to put in the common piggy bank

The basic priority of Belarus' adjusted foreign policy is to join the SCO and BRICS, whose creative role in the formation of harmonious and fair international relations is multiplying, which is publicly admitted not only by supporters, but also by opponents. The SCO and BRICS, with their core represented by like-minded states of the Global South and East, with their economic and military potentials, rich culture and geopolitical weight, are becoming universally recognized poles of power. The desire of these countries to come closer is natural in an environment where the SCO and BRICS work on truly democratic, mutually respectful principles of inclusivity, striving for a balanced world order, indivisible security, peaceful creation and development.

In a changing highly competitive geopolitical environment, these dynamically expanding integration formats are replacing the unipolar world. Their member countries share common approaches on the need to respect different cultures, views, and political systems, and advocate a variety of development paths. They do not set up cooperation and mutual assistance with preconditions, do not seek to dictate their will to other states, or impose alien values. Apart from increasing their global weight, the members of these blocs are becoming real centers of integration attraction and economic development in their subregions.

Such approaches are fully in tune with the philosophy and principles of our country's foreign policy, which, in particular, was confirmed by Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik in August 2023 during his participation in the XV BRICS summit events in South Africa.

Belarus welcomes the open constructive nature of the SCO and BRICS, absolutely supports their approaches on the world stage and demonstrates its readiness to actively engage as a full member in all sectors of cooperation. Belarus is a natural ally of the SCO and BRICS in building mutually beneficial and equal relations between West and East, North and South without dividing lines.

It should be emphasized that membership in the SCO and BRICS for us is not an end in itself and not a tribute to a fashion trend: Belarus has something to put in the common piggy bank.

Joining the SCO and BRICS opens up new opportunities in economics, trade, investment, support for international food security, implementing high-tech projects, developing new schemes of finance, logistics, cross-border e-commerce in the supply of goods to the countries of the far arc, including the active development of the North-South corridor, as well as other alternative transport and logistics routes in Greater Eurasia. Minsk is ready to engage in substantive efforts to increase mutual settlements in national currencies and create common payment instruments.

Therefore, intensifying practical cooperation with the SCO and BRICS is our asymmetric and adequate response to the illegitimate sanctions pressure of the West. Having been long and consistently promoting the idea of "integration of integrations" in the modern world, Belarus stands for the integration of the SCO and BRICS formats with the EAEU and the CIS in a broad context. The development of cooperation in such an interconnected format will contribute to the creation of the world's largest integration bloc, as well as a cross-cutting space for sustainable development and security.

The initiative of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to hold a joint summit of the EAEU, SCO and BRICS absolutely fits into this context. The core items on his agenda could be issues of economic cooperation (for example, the formation of regional trade blocs, the use of national currencies), as well as energy and security.

At the same time, few people in the West like the design of the SCO and BRICS as a kind of pool of second and third world countries seeking a fair and equitable system of global governance with equal rules and rights for all (especially in the fields of finance and economics), which causes a response. However, the integration processes in this space, despite attempts to deter and counteract, have already acquired an irreversible character, which clearly illustrates the list of countries wishing to join these associations.

Belarus maintains constructive and diversified bilateral relations with all SCO and BRICS members, without exception, as well as with many nominees. Therefore, we look forward to a broad positive consensus during the consideration of our applications for membership in them. Our main hopes on the way to the SCO and BRICS are connected with the support of Moscow, as the closest strategic partner and ally.

In December 2023, following a joint meeting of the boards of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, a program of coordinated actions in the field of foreign policy of the states parties to the Treaty on Establishing the Union State for 2024-2026 was signed in Moscow. Among other areas, it provides for coordination of actions and interaction on the SCO and BRICS platforms.

On January 15, 2024, Sergei Aleinik, during a meeting in Minsk with the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for SCO Affairs, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry Bakhtiyor Khakimov, stressed Belarus' full readiness to actively engage in all dimensions of the organization's practical activities this year.

In turn, on January 17, in Moscow, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Evgeny Shestakov discussed with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov issues of interaction in the context of Russia`s BRICS Presidency, the participation of the Republic of Belarus in the upcoming events of the association.

BISR is also starting the new year in unison with the current international agenda as part of its own roadmap. On January 15, the BISК analyst took part (online) in a round table meeting on the topic "The Role of Russia and BRICS+ Countries in Strengthening the Multipolar World", organized within the framework of the Russian presidency with the support of the Indian Center for Assistance to International Initiatives. In the course of the discussion, the leitmotif of which was the strategic contribution of the BRICS+ countries to multipolarity, our representative made a presentation on the topic "Belarus on the way to BRICS: prerequisites and basic goal setting". Preparations are underway to participate in the XIX meeting of the SCO Forum, which will be held in May in Tashkent under the chairmanship of our long-time partners - the Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

BISR also plans to obtain the status of the SCO National Research Center in accordance with the established procedure, which, according to the regulations, is necessary for participation in the SCO Forum as a full member, which is likely to happen later this year. With the support of colleagues from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, BISR plans to join the format of the annual meetings of the Academic Forum, and after joining, the Council of BRICS Expert Centers. We also count on active participation in other events of the academic track of interaction, including within the framework of the current presidency of the Russian Federation.

In our deep conviction, expert diplomacy – practice-oriented interaction through expert and analytical centers – is one of the effective auxiliary tools for strengthening the institutional foundation of the SCO and BRICS through increasing the dynamics of humanitarian ties, which helps Belarus to harmoniously integrate into the multinational family of these associations.