The post-Cold War international order continues to generate contradictions and vulnerabilities. Stability and predictability based on trust and effective institutions are being undermined by both old and new conflicts. Cooperation increasingly gives way to unilateral actions as states and societies face a broadening spectrum of security threats.

One of the epicenters of international tensions lies in Eastern Europe – a region marking a geopolitical fault line. Here, the status quo looks particularly perilous since the erosion of the rules of international conduct is taking place in the absence of a meaningful dialogue. Even expert forums, which are intended to seek solutions in the interests of peace and cooperation, have become part of the propaganda and information war. Essentially, existing expert platforms only generate more mutual accusations and thus further elevate international tensions. As a result, no real discussion about Eastern Europe’s present or future takes place.

Belarus is located at the heart of Eastern Europe. The country’s geographic position makes it particularly vulnerable to negative developments in the region. Escalating international tensions automatically amplify threats to Belarus’s security and complicate the country’s economic development. Moreover, historically, Belarus repeatedly fell victim to great power confrontation and became a battleground where rival armies clashed. Therefore, it has a strong “vested interest” in the prevention of major conflict in Eastern Europe.

Since the beginning of 2015, the Minsk Dialogue Track-II Initiative has provided an expert platform to explore ways of minimising regional tensions. Eleven international conferences and numerous thematic discussions have taken place and gathered representatives from various countries and international organisations. The Minsk Dialogue Forum will represent the next milestone in the initiative’s development. It will launch a large annual gathering of leading experts from Eastern Europe, the EU, Russia, the United States, and China. It will provide a prominent forum for discussions about present and future challenges to regional and international security. The latest version of the programme is available here.