His Excellency Mr. Mikhail KHVOSTOV
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus

in the General Debate of the 57th Session of the UN General Assembly
New York, 17 September, 2002

Mr. President,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election as President of the current session of the United Nations General Assembly. I am convinced that your extensive diplomatic experience will provide further dynamism to the successful and fruitful work carried out by your predecessor, distinguished Mr. Han Seung-soo, President of the 56th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Welcoming further the expansion of the community of nations by admission of new Member States and expressing our congratulations to the Swiss Confederation on the occasion of its joining the United Nations, the Republic of, Belarus is convinced that the new Member States and the United Nations on the whole will become reliable partners for the benefit of peace and progress on the planet.

Mr. President,

The previous UNGA session was a landmark for all of us. Last year, the world changed dramatically. The challenges of globalization have turned out to be more serious than they seemed to all of us when leaders of the United Nations Member States adopted the Millennium Declaration.

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 became a serious test for the stability of the United Nations and for our firm adherence to the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter.

We bow our heads to the memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks.

The American tragedy must never again repeat itself anywhere in the world. President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko wrote in his letter dated September 11, 2002 to President of the United States George Bush, and I quote: "Today we still bear in our hearts the memory of the innocent people who perished in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on that dreadful morning of September 11, 2001 ... In the beginning of the 21st century the world perceived the grave reality of new challenges and threats. We also realized that the evil of international terrorism can be eradicated only through joint concerted efforts". End of quote.

Today, we have every reason to say, that the world community has managed to confront the threat of global terrorism, having created a broad international coalition.

The measures, undertaken by the United Nations in response to the unprecedented acts of international terrorism, have marked a new and significant direction in the Organization's activities.

Belarus considers itself to be an integral part of the antiterrorism coalition. We fully support the activities of the Counter Terrorism Committee and have been actively interacting with it. We consider such cooperation not only in the context of unconditional implementation of the relevant resolution of the Security Council, but also as a process of a fruitful exchange of experience in the area of combating terrorism between the United Nations Member States, universal and regional international organizations and institutions.

The President, Government and Security Council of the Republic of Belarus have been constantly paying important attention to the issues of combating terrorism. The Law "On Combating Terrorism" entered into force in our country in January, 2002.

Our country is a party to 9 of the 12 major multilateral international treaties in the sphere of combating terrorism. The work on the accession to the three remaining international treaties is underway.

The results of a large-scale work carried out by the Counter Terrorism Committee should form a basis for new important steps. One of them is setting up a universal model of counter-terrorism legislation and the practice of its implementation.

The Republic of Belarus intends to make its contribution to the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on combating international terrorism and of an international convention on combating acts of nuclear terrorism. The work on these legal acts should constantly remain in the focus of attention of the UN Secretary-General since today international terrorism has not simply challenged two great powers, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the United States and Russia, but the entire international community. We have accepted this challenge and our response is clear. We, the United Nations, will eliminate terrorism.

Mr. President,

The man, his needs and requirements in a global world were in the focus of the United Nations' attention throughout the entire previous session. Belarus welcomes and shares this approach. The Millennium Declaration is our guiding reference point in this work. The search for optimal solutions to the tasks formulated in the Millennium Declaration was conducted during the two recent significant international fora - the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. In essence, these fora have marked a transition from the determination of common goals and objectives to practical steps for their implementation.

A major task of the 57th session is to summarize the results of this work and to determine concrete measures on implementing the agreements reached. The delegation of Belarus expresses its readiness to act in this direction in collaboration with other United Nations Member States.

The Government of our country attaches a paramount importance to the integration of environmental and social aspects into the National Strategy for Sustainable Development.

Belarus agrees with the analysis, made at the Johannesburg Summit, of successes and failures of advancing to sustainable development over the past decade, as well as of the ways of solving global problems in the 21st century.

Our country enters the new millennium as an important geopolitical element of the modern Eastern Europe, having stable economic and social infrastructure and the highest human development index among the CIS countries. Belarus strives for constructive interaction and mutually beneficial partnership with neighboring countries in the interest of building united Europe. We are convinced that the prospect of sustainable development of the entire European continent will not be fully realized without stable Belarus which plays the role of a reliable Eurasian transit bridge. The President and the Government of our country proceed from this assumption, determining the role and the level of participation of Belarus in the process of implementing the decisions of the World Summit for Sustainable Development.

The International Conference on Financing for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development reaffirmed the necessity of taking into account the interests of countries with economies in transition in the process of forming a stable world of the 21st century.

During the past decade this group of countries has come a long way in the process of transition to the market economy and full integration into international trade, economic and financial systems.

At the same time, these states today are at different stages of macroeconomic and financial stability and sustained economic growth. This can be explained by the peculiarities of development of each state, stipulated by both internal and external factors.

Therefore, it is important to continue international efforts to ensure irreversible character of market reforms in the countries with economies in transition with due regard to and alleviation of their social consequences and, full integration of such countries into the world economy. In this regard, Belarus hopes for a fruitful discussion of the relevant draft resolution during the current session UNGA.

Mr. President,

Achieving sustainable development in Belarus is directly connected to the necessity of overcoming the consequences of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the largest radiation disaster of the past century.

The economic damage Belarus suffered because of the catastrophe is equivalent to 235 billion US dollars. Our country has already invested about 13 billion US dollars into the restoration of social and economic sectors of the affected regions. The state of health of the affected population is still a matter of grave concern to us. At the same time, Chernobyl related issues have been gradually losing the attention of the international community, leaving Belarus to face the consequences of this disaster on its own.

During the recent several years Belarus has consistently supported the necessity of shifting the focus in the international Chernobyl-related cooperation from rendering humanitarian assistance to socio-economic rehabilitation and providing for sustainable development of the affected regions. We note with satisfaction the coincidence of the priorities of our activities with the approaches demonstrated by the relevant organizations of the United Nations system.

We welcome an active role played by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima, who personally got acquainted with the situation in the affected regions earlier this year, in the coordination of international Chernobyl-related cooperation. We are grateful to the UN Secretary-General H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan for his support to the activities of H.E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima. We are also satisfied with the current work of some members of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Chernobyl aimed at setting up an International Chernobyl Research Board, which would allow the international community to become aware of long-term consequences of radiation effects on human beings and environment in Belarus.

Our country supports the United Nations efforts to forge a partnership with nongovernmental organizations and private sector in this area. We believe that such partnership can make a considerable contribution to mobilizing additional resources for this purpose. At the same time, voluntary initiatives should supplement intergovernmental agreements but not to substitute them.

Mr. President,

Peace, security and stability are the necessary conditions for achieving sustainable development. Unfortunately, the past year has demonstrated that international peace and security still remain fragile. We have become witnesses to a sharp escalation of confrontation in the Middle East. This is the region, which risks becoming the center of a dangerous collision between civilizations.

The setting up of the Middle East Quartet with the participation of the United Nations, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States and the work carried out by this group inspire certain optimism, above all, from the point of view of the understanding reached by all participants to the peace process regarding non-alternativeness of the existence of the two independent states - Israel and Palestine. This understanding is consolidated in the relevant legally binding documents of the United Nations. We are convinced, that consistent implementation of the steps aimed at mutual reconciliation on the basis of continuous dialogue between the parties involved will serve the interests of the entire international community. The United Nations can and should play the most active role in this sphere.

There is no alternative today to the peace process in Afghanistan. The world community has already allocated significant financial, material and human resources to this country. These efforts should facilitate the creation of a new Afghanistan - stable and predictable partner in modern international relations. Belarus aspires to make its contribution to the work in this important field. In particular, the State Aviation Committee of Belarus has participated and continues to participate in transporting from Europe to Afghanistan humanitarian assistance cargoes as well as cargoes for international coalition forces.

We consider the establishment of the African Union as a landmark step in Africa. We believe, that this major regional association, with due support of the international community, will be able to accelerate the process of solving African problems, above all, of settling ethnic and religious conflicts. Within the United Nations, Belarus will render assistance in promoting and approving the projects and programs for supporting economic and humanitarian development of the African continent.

Mr. President,

This year has been marked by important agreements concerning the prospects for strategic stability. Belarus welcomes the signing in Moscow of the Treaty on the Reduction of Strategic Offensive Potentials between the Russian Federation and the United States and supports the development of a constructive dialogue between the nuclear states as the necessary prerequisite for creating a genuinely safe multipolar world.

It is necessary to continue international efforts to ensure the entering into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. A new impetus must also be given to the work of the Conference on Disarmament. The world also needs concerted dynamic actions in the field of reduction of conventional weapons.

Adherent to the policy of transparency and strengthening of confidence and security, Belarus has made its contribution to the setting up of new security architecture from Vancouver to Vladivostok by having deposited the instruments of ratification of the Open Skies Treaty in November 2001.

At the current session we intend to introduce a draft resolution entitled "Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons" which is, in our opinion, very urgent. We hope for its unanimous support, as was the case at the previous sessions of the General Assembly.

Mr. President,

The Republic of Belarus believes that the UN Security Council should play a key role in maintaining international peace and security, including the situation around Iraq. In this regard, Belarus welcomes the recent decision of the Government of the Republic of Iraq to allow the immediate and unconditional return of the UN weapons inspectors to this country.

We are convinced that any actions or intentions to evade the authority of the UN Security Council stipulated by the UN Charter as well as non-fulfillment by states of the decisions of the UN Security Council undermine the legal basis of the existing system of international relations and jeopardize the fundamentals of the international legal order.

In the context of complex tasks the United Nations is facing today, the reform of the Organization becomes an ever more important condition for their successful accomplishment. A founding member of the United Nations, Belarus has been consistently standing for the strengthening of the United Nation's role in solving world problems. We believe that, in an era of globalization, only an institutionally strong Organization will be capable of making a genuinely effective contribution to the coordination of efforts of member states on implementing the noble goals stipulated by the UN Charter.

Despite a lack of visible moving forward within the Working Group on the Security Council Reform on the issue of its enlargement, Belarus welcomes sufficient progress in improving the working methods of the Council, increasing transparency of its activities and the growing number of open meetings and briefings.

The process of reforming the UN General Assembly has also gradually been getting the necessary acceleration. The results of informal consultations held this year should form a basis for effective work at the current session.

Belarus monitors with interest the activities of the Economic and Social Council and welcomes the dynamics of its internal reforms. Belarus also supports a higher level of its interaction with the Security Council and the General Assembly. We stand for further intensification and higher efficiency of the activities of the ECOSOC-and its subsidiary bodies. We support the steps taken to improve the coordinating role of the Council stipulated in the United Nations Charter and reflected in the Millennium Declaration.

Mr. President,

Summarizing the results of our work and determining the tasks for the future, we inevitably come to a conclusion, that the dynamics of the development of modern world practically do not leave us any time for thought. Purposeful moving forward for solving specific tasks is the only key to success. Belarus is ready to make active efforts for achieving this success in cooperation with other United Nations Member States.

Thank you for your attention.