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The role of Iran in the «turn to the East» of Belarus foreign policy and economy

photo: IRNA
15 November 2022
Alexander Shpakovsky Alexander Shpakovsky

Alexander Shpakovsky |Minsk

CISS expert

In 2023, the bilateral contacts at the top level are expected to ramp-up. On the threshold of this, Vladimir Makei, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, paid an official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ebrahim Raisi, the IRI President, received the head of the Belarus diplomacy. In its communication the Foreign Affairs Ministry emphasizes that this meeting took place following on from the agreements achieved by the presidents of both countries on the sidelines of the SCO Council of the heads of states in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) on September 15-16. [1]

Let us remind here that during that bilateral meeting with the Iranian leader Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, stated that «Minsk and Teheran need to stand together in order to not just survive, but to take their place in the sun». At the same time the leader of Belarus set the key tasks for the Foreign Affairs Ministries of the two countries: to revise the current situation and to intensify the bilateral relations. [2]

In the light of the above it should be noted that the analytical review of the interests of Belarus in the Caspian Region published by CISS in May contained similar conclusions about the need to intensify the interaction between Belarus and Iran. The article argues that «the multi-year pressing by the collective West, first of all Ц by the USA, political pressure and economic sanctions, and the attempts to impose the science and technology blockade and artificial development restrictions, which both Minsk and Teheran are facing, urge the political circles of both states to rapprochement in various areas». At the same time, it was noted that the results of trade between them looked very modest (the sales turnover between Iran and Belarus made only USD 33.28 mln in 2021), and «a rather lengthy pause is observed in organizing mutual visits» especially at the top and high levels of political contacts. [3]

Thus, Vladimir Makei acted within the assignments of the President of Belarus pre-agreed with the Iranian party. The visit of the Foreign Affairs Minister to Teheran is explained not by just sporadic combination of circumstance, but by the objective reality of the bilateral relations, the common interests at the international arena and implementation of the «turn to the East» concept of the foreign policy of Belarus.

It is important to emphasize that in addition to this meeting with President Raisi V. Makei also had negotiations with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the incumbent Speaker of the Parliament of Iran, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Reza Fatemi Amin, the Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, and with the Iranian major businesses representatives. 

These contacts resulted in signing the Cooperation Program of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs for 2022-2025. On top of that, the parties expressed their intent to ramp-up the inter-parliamentary dialogue and the trade and economic ties with the focus on implementing projects in the real sector of economy. In 2023, Belarus and Iran will celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations, and a number of joint events is planned along with the top and high-level mutual visits.

Common geopolitical interests

Not only bilateral, but an important geopolitical context may be observed in the relations between Belarus and Iran. Against the background of common interest in building the multipolar world allowing for both countries to get rid of permanent dictates and aggressive pressure of the West, the strive of both Minsk and Teheran to join SCO (the two states have filed their bids already) provide additional common ground. It appears that the political class of both Belarus and Iran view the Shanghai Cooperation organization comprising such global powers as Russia, China and India as the new center of power currently taking shape, which may not always stand as a united front against the West, but at least is offering an international alternative for the states that the USA, the EU and their client-states are trying to isolate.

In our opinion, Alexander Lukashenko made a good point expressing the view of official Minsk at the current international reality in his speech on celebrating the Victory Day on 9 May 2022. Characterizing the global situation, the President of Belarus concluded that «the entire world is tired from the American stranglehold». «India, Latin American countries, Arab states and South Africa Ц everyone is tired from the American stranglehold!», the leader of Belarus proclaimed. [4]

This approach appears to be very close to the Iranian one, the national development of which is progressing under permanent external pressure starting from the very moment of the Islamic Revolution. It should be noted that the USA introduced the first wave of anti-Iranian sanctions back in 1979, and then continued their policy of restrictions. Later, other countries of the Western world and various proxy regimes controlled by Washington joined this sanctions-based aggression.

These circumstances pre-determined the rapprochement of Iran with Russia Ц the key ally of Belarus both in military-technical and in economic spheres. Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, remarked that «by introducing economic sanctions against different countries around the world, the USA are bringing them together. The USA sanctions cover several countries. By implementing them, the Americans force these countries to stand together and strengthen their unity. This is what makes the American sanctions inefficient», the Iranian leader stated. [5]

In our opinion, the start of the special military operation in Ukraine was in fact the attempt of Russia to make a revolution against the existing rules of «the world order American style». The Republic of Belarus and the Islamic Republic of Iran are the key Russian military allies: they do not participate in combat action directly, but provide the necessary support in military and technical spheres, they synchronize their actions at the international arena with Moscow, etc. Moreover, in the case of Belarus we are talking about the common defense policy implemented in accordance with the military doctrine of the common state, which includes both provision of anti-aircraft defense and deployment of the combined military forces in the territory of Belarus.

Another factor of common interest of Belarus and Iran is counteracting the «color-coded» revolutions used by the West many times to try to overthrow the governments and to change the political systems of the two countries. Belarus successfully averted the most recent attempt of such kind in 2020 after the presidential elections, while Iran continues to face the challenges of internal destabilization, which, however, are successfully neutralized due to well-coordinated action of security/law enforcement agencies and mobilizing the patriotic forces in the society.

From this standpoint, studying the practices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (ISGC), information exchange between the security agencies of the two countries, interaction between the state think tanks and analytical centers, public and partisan diplomacy, academic mobility between Belarus and Iran appear to be very attractive for developing bilateral relations.

Joint efforts of Belarus, Iran, Russia and other sovereign states to render assistance to other countries in counteracting the «color-code» revolutions and civil unrest may become another area of cooperation in future. Moscow and Teheran already have such experience in Syria, Belarus also sent its peace-making forces within the CSTO mission to support law and order during the January crisis in Kazakhstan.

In addition, it is known that political experts from Belarus provide consultancy to the government of some countries based on their accumulated experience of counteracting hybrid coup dТйtat technologies. In connection with this, there is an opinion about the feasibility of setting up the joint analytical center for counteracting the «color-coded» revolutions, which could exercise its powers on the inter-government level within SCO similar to the CIS Anti-Terrorist Center, or as an international NGO with its branches in Minsk, Moscow, Teheran and capitals of other stakeholder-countries.

Thus, common geopolitical interests of Belarus and Iran are in the need to transform the world order to a fair and multipolar one, in joining SCO and developing this organization as an alternative center of power, in supporting Russia in its special military operation and its activities on the global arena, and in counteracting the destructive impact of the «color-code» revolutions.

Trade and economic interaction potential

As was mentioned above, the mutual trade metrics of Belarus and Iran so far look rather immaterial. Some decrease of the turnover was observed during the recent years Ц from USD 150 mln in 2017 down to USD 33.28 mln in 2021. This is an inadequate situation with account of the partner relations between these two countries, the common positions of Teheran and Minsk on many geopolitical issues and lack of any visible barriers for the economic tiesТ expansion. [6]

The key items exported from Belarus to Iran are timberwork, newsprint, bearings ad other industrial goods. Iran supplies fruit and dried fruit, nuts, medical appliances and pharmaceuticals. The joint Belarus-Iranian Commission for Economic Cooperation is an important format of interaction; Minsk hosted its 15th session on 28-29 July 2022.

It is necessary to say that this session was in center of special attention on behalf of Belarus authorities. Roman Golovchenko, the Prime-Minister of Belarus, had a meeting with Sayyid Reza Fatemi Amin, the Iranian co-Chairman of the Commission, the Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade.

Based on the results of these negotiations, the parties made optimistic statements demonstrating mutual commitment to joint action targeted at eliminating the existing deficiencies with the purpose to seriously increase the sales turnover. According to Sayyid Reza Fatemi Amin, «the total Iranian foreign trade turnover is over USD 120 bn, and the total Belarus foreign trade turnover is over USD 80 bn, but our common trade turnover is only USD 40 mln. Our political relations are at a very good level, but the trade and economic relations are lagging behind. However, our economies are capable of supporting each other». Iranian Minister also stated that «if we continue to enhance our cooperation, our turnover may grow up to USD 1 bn».

Supplying large dump trucks BELAZ made in Belarus for Iranian mining industry is in the center of the cooperation agenda. In the course of the negotiations with the Prime-Minister of Belarus, Sayyid Reza Fatemi Amin confirmed that Teheran was ready to collaborate with Minsk in this sphere. «The mining industry is rapidly developing now in our country. Our government has the Action Plan, and to implement it, big number of dump trucks will be needed», the Iranian official stated. [7]

It is necessary to say that BELAZ company from Belarus (located in Zhodino city) accounts for about 30% of the global market of mine dump trucks with the carrying capacity 90+ tonnes. At the current stage, this company is under Western sanctions, however, its products are still sold at foreign markets: in Russia, in CIS countries and in other far-abroad countries, among which India being one of the key partners. This year, BELAZ plans to supply over 900 dump trucks to the Russian Federation, which is record-high in the modern history. The company is active in R&D working at future prototypes including electric mine dump trucks and robotized vehicles. [8]

Hence, the Republic of Belarus has all the necessary manufacturing capacities, as well as research and technical competencies to implement the contract for supplying significant number of dump trucks to cover the needs of the Iranian mining industry. The parties demonstrate the political will for implementing this contract allowing for counting on positive results for bilateral trade and economic relations.

In addition to exporting the products of Belarussian engineering industry, other meaningful areas are military and technical sphere, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and tourism.

Just like Belarus, Iran has unique engineering solutions for manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Iranian UAVs demonstrated high-class performance at different theatres of military operations and are highly appraised by experts. In its turn, Belarus has its own projects in the sphere of combat UAVs manufacturing, one type of such vehicles «Chekan» or UBAK-25 was successfully tested this July.

Iranian missile and aerospace programs (with their serious practical results) are also extremely interesting for Belarus. Recently Ghaem-100, a solid-fueled three-stage launcher capable of bringing 80-kg satellites to orbit, passed a successful suborbital test confirming high professional skills of Iranian specialists.

In our opinion, the combination of engineering schools of Belarus and Iran appears to be absolutely possible and capable of breakthroughs in the sphere of military and technical cooperation that may be used in the interest of both countries, as well as by their common allies, for example, by the Russian Federation. 

As for the tourism industry, it should be noted that Iran became the leading destinations for many Russians planning their winter holidays abroad. Specialists say that «Iran accounts for approximately 20% of hotel requests, while in 2021 this country was not in the top list». [9]

Based on all the above, we can suppose with rather high probability that the foreign tourism market in Belarus will be moving along Russian trends, and respectively the Iranian destination has significant potential for attracting Belarussian tourists. It is feasible to support the interested tourism operators, to make presentations of the tourist potential of Iran across Belarus, as well as Belarussian capabilities for receiving tourists. It is also necessary to organize direct flights between Minsk and Teheran, which will positively affect the bilateral relations.

Conclusions

It is obvious that in the context of escalating tension of the international relations in general instigated by the collective West with the objective to maintain their domination over our planet and preserving «the world order American style» we can observe intensification of political, diplomatic, trading and economic contacts between the Republic of Belarus and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

These trends are underpinned both by the common geopolitical interests of Minsk and Teheran and by specific tasks of bilateral cooperation, where the idea of exporting Belarussian dump trucks BELAZ to Iran is especially relevant in the context of Iranian state program focused on mining industry development.

The political will and commitment to strengthening the collaboration of the leaders of the two countries Ц Ebrahim Raisi and Alexander Lukashenko Ц is an important factor allowing for forecasting positive bilateral relations enhancement. The two presidents met on the sidelines of the Presidential SCO Summit in Samarkand, and based on the results of this meeting an Action Plan was developed for enhancement of Belarussian-Iranian ties in various spheres, which is being implemented currently.

The visit of Vladimir Makei, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, to Iran is evaluated as successful and sets the stage for further meetings at the top and high levels, which will take place in 2023.

The potential of trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Iran is not fully implemented. The Iranian side believes the trade turnover between the two countries may grow up to USD 1 bn. The strong focus on economic development demonstrated by both Minsk and Teheran has resulted in certain positive shifts already: in H1 2022 the trade turnover grew by 35%.

1. The visit of Vladimir Makei, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, to Iran. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, 27.10.2022. https://www.mfa.gov.by/press/news_mfa/e0be08119ddb5cba.html

2. Lukashenko urged the Iranian President to stand together. RIA Novosti, 16.09.2022. https://ria.ru/20220916/iran-1817165622.html?ysclid=lafc2q9au0727841398

3. Key interests of Belarus in the Caspian Region: ramping up the export of goods and services. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 23.05.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/shpakovskij-aleksandr/klyuchevye-interesy-belarusi-v-kaspijskom-regione-narashchivanie-ehksporta-tovarov-i-uslug-38027.shtml

4. Lukashenko: the entire world is tired from the stranglehold of the USA. Politexpert, 09.05.2022. https://politexpert.net/23189193-lukashenko_ves_mir_ustal_ot_udavki_ssha?utm_source=yxnews&utm_medium=desktop

5. The President of Iran explained how the USA bring the countries together. RIA Novosti, 19.09.2022. https://ria.ru/20220919/sanktsii-1817755389.html?ysclid=lafem8jvx9695447637

6. The Embassy of the Republic of Belarus to Iran. Trade and economic relations. https://iran.mfa.gov.by/ru/bilateral_relations/economic/

7. The trade turnover between Belarus and Iran may make up to USD 1 bn. Sputnik Belarus, 29.07.2022. https://sputnik.by/20220729/iran-planiruet-zakupit-v-belarusi-okolo-800-samosvalov-belaz-1065250669.html?ysclid=lafijzevvi464751362

8. Unmanned and battery-driven: the future of BELAZ dump trucks. 5 koleso, 21.10.2022. https://5koleso.ru/avtopark/spetstehnika/bez-voditelya-i-na-batarejkah-budushhee-samosvalov-belaz/?ysclid=lafja42gte176598490

9. Iran becomes the top foreign destination for Russians for their winter holidays. Izvestia, 10.11.2022. https://iz.ru/1423596/2022-11-10/iran-stal-liderom-sredi-zarubezhnykh-napravlenii-v-novyi-god-u-rossiian?ysclid=lafkit9lvw594400176

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Publications

The role of Iran in the «turn to the East» of Belarus foreign policy and economy

photo: IRNA
15 но€бр€ 2022
Alexander Shpakovsky

Alexander Shpakovsky | Minsk

CISS expert

In 2023, the bilateral contacts at the top level are expected to ramp-up. On the threshold of this, Vladimir Makei, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, paid an official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ebrahim Raisi, the IRI President, received the head of the Belarus diplomacy. In its communication the Foreign Affairs Ministry emphasizes that this meeting took place following on from the agreements achieved by the presidents of both countries on the sidelines of the SCO Council of the heads of states in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) on September 15-16. [1]

Let us remind here that during that bilateral meeting with the Iranian leader Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, stated that «Minsk and Teheran need to stand together in order to not just survive, but to take their place in the sun». At the same time the leader of Belarus set the key tasks for the Foreign Affairs Ministries of the two countries: to revise the current situation and to intensify the bilateral relations. [2]

In the light of the above it should be noted that the analytical review of the interests of Belarus in the Caspian Region published by CISS in May contained similar conclusions about the need to intensify the interaction between Belarus and Iran. The article argues that «the multi-year pressing by the collective West, first of all Ц by the USA, political pressure and economic sanctions, and the attempts to impose the science and technology blockade and artificial development restrictions, which both Minsk and Teheran are facing, urge the political circles of both states to rapprochement in various areas». At the same time, it was noted that the results of trade between them looked very modest (the sales turnover between Iran and Belarus made only USD 33.28 mln in 2021), and «a rather lengthy pause is observed in organizing mutual visits» especially at the top and high levels of political contacts. [3]

Thus, Vladimir Makei acted within the assignments of the President of Belarus pre-agreed with the Iranian party. The visit of the Foreign Affairs Minister to Teheran is explained not by just sporadic combination of circumstance, but by the objective reality of the bilateral relations, the common interests at the international arena and implementation of the «turn to the East» concept of the foreign policy of Belarus.

It is important to emphasize that in addition to this meeting with President Raisi V. Makei also had negotiations with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the incumbent Speaker of the Parliament of Iran, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Reza Fatemi Amin, the Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, and with the Iranian major businesses representatives. 

These contacts resulted in signing the Cooperation Program of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs for 2022-2025. On top of that, the parties expressed their intent to ramp-up the inter-parliamentary dialogue and the trade and economic ties with the focus on implementing projects in the real sector of economy. In 2023, Belarus and Iran will celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations, and a number of joint events is planned along with the top and high-level mutual visits.

Common geopolitical interests

Not only bilateral, but an important geopolitical context may be observed in the relations between Belarus and Iran. Against the background of common interest in building the multipolar world allowing for both countries to get rid of permanent dictates and aggressive pressure of the West, the strive of both Minsk and Teheran to join SCO (the two states have filed their bids already) provide additional common ground. It appears that the political class of both Belarus and Iran view the Shanghai Cooperation organization comprising such global powers as Russia, China and India as the new center of power currently taking shape, which may not always stand as a united front against the West, but at least is offering an international alternative for the states that the USA, the EU and their client-states are trying to isolate.

In our opinion, Alexander Lukashenko made a good point expressing the view of official Minsk at the current international reality in his speech on celebrating the Victory Day on 9 May 2022. Characterizing the global situation, the President of Belarus concluded that «the entire world is tired from the American stranglehold». «India, Latin American countries, Arab states and South Africa Ц everyone is tired from the American stranglehold!», the leader of Belarus proclaimed. [4]

This approach appears to be very close to the Iranian one, the national development of which is progressing under permanent external pressure starting from the very moment of the Islamic Revolution. It should be noted that the USA introduced the first wave of anti-Iranian sanctions back in 1979, and then continued their policy of restrictions. Later, other countries of the Western world and various proxy regimes controlled by Washington joined this sanctions-based aggression.

These circumstances pre-determined the rapprochement of Iran with Russia Ц the key ally of Belarus both in military-technical and in economic spheres. Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, remarked that «by introducing economic sanctions against different countries around the world, the USA are bringing them together. The USA sanctions cover several countries. By implementing them, the Americans force these countries to stand together and strengthen their unity. This is what makes the American sanctions inefficient», the Iranian leader stated. [5]

In our opinion, the start of the special military operation in Ukraine was in fact the attempt of Russia to make a revolution against the existing rules of «the world order American style». The Republic of Belarus and the Islamic Republic of Iran are the key Russian military allies: they do not participate in combat action directly, but provide the necessary support in military and technical spheres, they synchronize their actions at the international arena with Moscow, etc. Moreover, in the case of Belarus we are talking about the common defense policy implemented in accordance with the military doctrine of the common state, which includes both provision of anti-aircraft defense and deployment of the combined military forces in the territory of Belarus.

Another factor of common interest of Belarus and Iran is counteracting the «color-coded» revolutions used by the West many times to try to overthrow the governments and to change the political systems of the two countries. Belarus successfully averted the most recent attempt of such kind in 2020 after the presidential elections, while Iran continues to face the challenges of internal destabilization, which, however, are successfully neutralized due to well-coordinated action of security/law enforcement agencies and mobilizing the patriotic forces in the society.

From this standpoint, studying the practices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (ISGC), information exchange between the security agencies of the two countries, interaction between the state think tanks and analytical centers, public and partisan diplomacy, academic mobility between Belarus and Iran appear to be very attractive for developing bilateral relations.

Joint efforts of Belarus, Iran, Russia and other sovereign states to render assistance to other countries in counteracting the «color-code» revolutions and civil unrest may become another area of cooperation in future. Moscow and Teheran already have such experience in Syria, Belarus also sent its peace-making forces within the CSTO mission to support law and order during the January crisis in Kazakhstan.

In addition, it is known that political experts from Belarus provide consultancy to the government of some countries based on their accumulated experience of counteracting hybrid coup dТйtat technologies. In connection with this, there is an opinion about the feasibility of setting up the joint analytical center for counteracting the «color-coded» revolutions, which could exercise its powers on the inter-government level within SCO similar to the CIS Anti-Terrorist Center, or as an international NGO with its branches in Minsk, Moscow, Teheran and capitals of other stakeholder-countries.

Thus, common geopolitical interests of Belarus and Iran are in the need to transform the world order to a fair and multipolar one, in joining SCO and developing this organization as an alternative center of power, in supporting Russia in its special military operation and its activities on the global arena, and in counteracting the destructive impact of the «color-code» revolutions.

Trade and economic interaction potential

As was mentioned above, the mutual trade metrics of Belarus and Iran so far look rather immaterial. Some decrease of the turnover was observed during the recent years Ц from USD 150 mln in 2017 down to USD 33.28 mln in 2021. This is an inadequate situation with account of the partner relations between these two countries, the common positions of Teheran and Minsk on many geopolitical issues and lack of any visible barriers for the economic tiesТ expansion. [6]

The key items exported from Belarus to Iran are timberwork, newsprint, bearings ad other industrial goods. Iran supplies fruit and dried fruit, nuts, medical appliances and pharmaceuticals. The joint Belarus-Iranian Commission for Economic Cooperation is an important format of interaction; Minsk hosted its 15th session on 28-29 July 2022.

It is necessary to say that this session was in center of special attention on behalf of Belarus authorities. Roman Golovchenko, the Prime-Minister of Belarus, had a meeting with Sayyid Reza Fatemi Amin, the Iranian co-Chairman of the Commission, the Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade.

Based on the results of these negotiations, the parties made optimistic statements demonstrating mutual commitment to joint action targeted at eliminating the existing deficiencies with the purpose to seriously increase the sales turnover. According to Sayyid Reza Fatemi Amin, «the total Iranian foreign trade turnover is over USD 120 bn, and the total Belarus foreign trade turnover is over USD 80 bn, but our common trade turnover is only USD 40 mln. Our political relations are at a very good level, but the trade and economic relations are lagging behind. However, our economies are capable of supporting each other». Iranian Minister also stated that «if we continue to enhance our cooperation, our turnover may grow up to USD 1 bn».

Supplying large dump trucks BELAZ made in Belarus for Iranian mining industry is in the center of the cooperation agenda. In the course of the negotiations with the Prime-Minister of Belarus, Sayyid Reza Fatemi Amin confirmed that Teheran was ready to collaborate with Minsk in this sphere. «The mining industry is rapidly developing now in our country. Our government has the Action Plan, and to implement it, big number of dump trucks will be needed», the Iranian official stated. [7]

It is necessary to say that BELAZ company from Belarus (located in Zhodino city) accounts for about 30% of the global market of mine dump trucks with the carrying capacity 90+ tonnes. At the current stage, this company is under Western sanctions, however, its products are still sold at foreign markets: in Russia, in CIS countries and in other far-abroad countries, among which India being one of the key partners. This year, BELAZ plans to supply over 900 dump trucks to the Russian Federation, which is record-high in the modern history. The company is active in R&D working at future prototypes including electric mine dump trucks and robotized vehicles. [8]

Hence, the Republic of Belarus has all the necessary manufacturing capacities, as well as research and technical competencies to implement the contract for supplying significant number of dump trucks to cover the needs of the Iranian mining industry. The parties demonstrate the political will for implementing this contract allowing for counting on positive results for bilateral trade and economic relations.

In addition to exporting the products of Belarussian engineering industry, other meaningful areas are military and technical sphere, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and tourism.

Just like Belarus, Iran has unique engineering solutions for manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Iranian UAVs demonstrated high-class performance at different theatres of military operations and are highly appraised by experts. In its turn, Belarus has its own projects in the sphere of combat UAVs manufacturing, one type of such vehicles «Chekan» or UBAK-25 was successfully tested this July.

Iranian missile and aerospace programs (with their serious practical results) are also extremely interesting for Belarus. Recently Ghaem-100, a solid-fueled three-stage launcher capable of bringing 80-kg satellites to orbit, passed a successful suborbital test confirming high professional skills of Iranian specialists.

In our opinion, the combination of engineering schools of Belarus and Iran appears to be absolutely possible and capable of breakthroughs in the sphere of military and technical cooperation that may be used in the interest of both countries, as well as by their common allies, for example, by the Russian Federation. 

As for the tourism industry, it should be noted that Iran became the leading destinations for many Russians planning their winter holidays abroad. Specialists say that «Iran accounts for approximately 20% of hotel requests, while in 2021 this country was not in the top list». [9]

Based on all the above, we can suppose with rather high probability that the foreign tourism market in Belarus will be moving along Russian trends, and respectively the Iranian destination has significant potential for attracting Belarussian tourists. It is feasible to support the interested tourism operators, to make presentations of the tourist potential of Iran across Belarus, as well as Belarussian capabilities for receiving tourists. It is also necessary to organize direct flights between Minsk and Teheran, which will positively affect the bilateral relations.

Conclusions

It is obvious that in the context of escalating tension of the international relations in general instigated by the collective West with the objective to maintain their domination over our planet and preserving «the world order American style» we can observe intensification of political, diplomatic, trading and economic contacts between the Republic of Belarus and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

These trends are underpinned both by the common geopolitical interests of Minsk and Teheran and by specific tasks of bilateral cooperation, where the idea of exporting Belarussian dump trucks BELAZ to Iran is especially relevant in the context of Iranian state program focused on mining industry development.

The political will and commitment to strengthening the collaboration of the leaders of the two countries Ц Ebrahim Raisi and Alexander Lukashenko Ц is an important factor allowing for forecasting positive bilateral relations enhancement. The two presidents met on the sidelines of the Presidential SCO Summit in Samarkand, and based on the results of this meeting an Action Plan was developed for enhancement of Belarussian-Iranian ties in various spheres, which is being implemented currently.

The visit of Vladimir Makei, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, to Iran is evaluated as successful and sets the stage for further meetings at the top and high levels, which will take place in 2023.

The potential of trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Iran is not fully implemented. The Iranian side believes the trade turnover between the two countries may grow up to USD 1 bn. The strong focus on economic development demonstrated by both Minsk and Teheran has resulted in certain positive shifts already: in H1 2022 the trade turnover grew by 35%.

1. The visit of Vladimir Makei, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, to Iran. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, 27.10.2022. https://www.mfa.gov.by/press/news_mfa/e0be08119ddb5cba.html

2. Lukashenko urged the Iranian President to stand together. RIA Novosti, 16.09.2022. https://ria.ru/20220916/iran-1817165622.html?ysclid=lafc2q9au0727841398

3. Key interests of Belarus in the Caspian Region: ramping up the export of goods and services. Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, 23.05.2022. https://caspian.institute/product/shpakovskij-aleksandr/klyuchevye-interesy-belarusi-v-kaspijskom-regione-narashchivanie-ehksporta-tovarov-i-uslug-38027.shtml

4. Lukashenko: the entire world is tired from the stranglehold of the USA. Politexpert, 09.05.2022. https://politexpert.net/23189193-lukashenko_ves_mir_ustal_ot_udavki_ssha?utm_source=yxnews&utm_medium=desktop

5. The President of Iran explained how the USA bring the countries together. RIA Novosti, 19.09.2022. https://ria.ru/20220919/sanktsii-1817755389.html?ysclid=lafem8jvx9695447637

6. The Embassy of the Republic of Belarus to Iran. Trade and economic relations. https://iran.mfa.gov.by/ru/bilateral_relations/economic/

7. The trade turnover between Belarus and Iran may make up to USD 1 bn. Sputnik Belarus, 29.07.2022. https://sputnik.by/20220729/iran-planiruet-zakupit-v-belarusi-okolo-800-samosvalov-belaz-1065250669.html?ysclid=lafijzevvi464751362

8. Unmanned and battery-driven: the future of BELAZ dump trucks. 5 koleso, 21.10.2022. https://5koleso.ru/avtopark/spetstehnika/bez-voditelya-i-na-batarejkah-budushhee-samosvalov-belaz/?ysclid=lafja42gte176598490

9. Iran becomes the top foreign destination for Russians for their winter holidays. Izvestia, 10.11.2022. https://iz.ru/1423596/2022-11-10/iran-stal-liderom-sredi-zarubezhnykh-napravlenii-v-novyi-god-u-rossiian?ysclid=lafkit9lvw594400176