Turkey ‘key partner’ in region, says Belarusian official

A Belarusian minister has used the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties with Ankara to describe Turkey as a “key partner”.

Minsk valued its relationship with Ankara, Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Kravchenko told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview this week.

“Turkey is one of our key partners in the region. It is, of course, a very important country not only in the region but globally and we really value this relationship,” Kravchenko said.

Kravchenko’s visit to the Turkish capital this week coincided with the anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Belarus.

He said Turkey was the first foreign country to have recognized the 1991 independence of Belarus.

“Twenty-five years is fairly a long time for a person but for history this is really just an instant,” Kravchenko said.

He believed Ankara and Minsk had already achieved a great deal in bilateral relations: “This is just the beginning of a strategic partnership and of a sustainable friendship between our countries and our peoples,” he added.

“There are no issues that contain any conflict potential. So there are no impediments on the path to a further improvement of our relations,” he said, adding: “Political relations [with Turkey] are excellent.”

Kravchenko said economic relations between the two countries have developed “but we can do even better”.

He hoped bilateral trade volume between the two countries would reach $1 billion by the end of 2017.

Kravchenko said Belarus wanted not only to export products to Turkey, but to produce in Turkey.

He also said cooperation in the field of education was key for further relations, adding that three universities in Belarus were offering courses in the Turkish language.

“We believe it is crucial to know Turkish in order to be able to have a close, special, strategic relationship,” he added.