Review of official visits to Belarus March 21-25: Witold Waszczykowski, Tamas Ajan, Tigran Sargsyan and Giorgi Kvirikashvili


Review of official visits to Belarus March 21-25: Witold Waszczykowski, Tamas Ajan, Tigran Sargsyan and Giorgi Kvirikashvili

The visit to Belarus of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland and his meeting with President Lukashenko drew much attention this week. In recent years, relations between Belarus and Poland have repeatedly been characterized by tension. Conflicts were connected with the Union of Poles, Cards of the Pole and incidents with Catholic priests. But comparable to the conflicting relations between Moscow and Warsaw, yet Belarus and Poland are better neighbors. One cannot get away from it. As President Lukashenko likes saying: "we do not choose neighbors because neighbors are given to us by God."

Mutual trade between the two countries is extremely important. Turnover, however, has decreased in recent years. And, as noted by Belarus Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei, it fell because of "subjective reasons."

There have been no Belarusian-Polish contacts at the highest level for several years, noted Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting with Witold Waszczykowski.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
We live nearby, Minister, and the story seems to repeat itself. We often experience the same problems - someone has more of them, someone less. But the way of the minister from Warsaw to Minsk was so long. But thank God you've come. We have something to talk about. I would not say there are issues that we cannot resolve. When there is a will on both sides, we can resolve everything. The main thing is to agree on the criteria. We will be building relations with other states on the principles similar to those of Polish foriegn policy. For example, if you protect sovereignty and independence, we will protect it, too. We will follow your example in social and economic policy. I want to say that if the partners with whom we are in dialogue insist on our choosing between the east or the west, you should know that this position is not suitable for us. I am absolutely convinced that now you do not need this position either. I think that Poland is more than anyone else (as a major EU player) interested in Belarus being not only an independent state, but also a stable country. Together with you, we can play a significant role, being at the center of the European continent. In the interests of Poland and Belarus. But in any case, not to the detriment of our neighbors.

Witold Waszczykowski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland:
Mr President, I am grateful for the fact that we have met. The new Polish government really thinks that it was not a normal situation when the neighbors have not spoken to each other for years. So we decided, without any preconditions, to begin the dialogue to resolve all the neighborhood issues, which we will be able to do in the near future.

Last week put Minsk on the political and economic crossroads. Apart from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, the Deputy Prime Minister and, concurrently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, Karl Erjavec, crossed the western border into Belarus.

He reiterated that Slovenia appreciates the relations with Belarus, and has always supported our country, even during the sanctions period.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I do not think that we will have problems on the political and diplomatic level or in relations between people. There are absolutely no problems. There was some kind of pause due to the reasons that you know. We believe that Slovenia was not involved. But the foundation of everything is economy. We would need a few large projects, let it be 3-4 projects (we are already working on some) that will link our republics and then even the European Union will not be able to intervene.

Another interesting guest was the head of the International Weightlifting Federation Tamas Ajan, who offered Belarus to bid for the World Weightlifting Championship 2019.   

Tamas Ajan, president of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF):
Belarus is a great country and the people here is fantastic. You have good traditions in weightlifting, there are Olympic champions and other international athletes. I know that you are a good ice hockey player, and I want to notice that ice hockey is my favorite sport.  

These were guests from the west. Now let's talk about those from the east. This is the Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission - a kind of analogue of the Government of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). It is headed by Tigran Sargsyan, former Prime Minister of Armenia. 

The Eurasian Economic Union should be no worse than the European Union, said in a conversation Alexander Lukashenko.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
If someone believes that one can make a joke or simply talk to media about how good everything is without doing something real, he is deeply mistaken. We have no way back in terms of the Eurasian Economic Union and we need to improve it so that it is no worse than the European Union.

The governor of the Oryol region, Vadim Potomsky, also visited Minsk. The foundation of relations with this region of Russia was created in the days of Yegor Stroyev. Cooperation is made possible thanks to the similarity of the economic structure of Belarus and this Russian region.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
You are building much for people. We will also try to follow this line. This means that the building complex is in demand. So we are interested in many of your key areas, including the mining industry. If you have interest in our areas, you can use them too, including technology; we will be very happy to do it for you. Orel Oblast is close to Belarus, so this cooperation will be convenient.

Another guest of the week is the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili. He became head of the Georgian government in late 2015. But because his political outlook is similar to his predecessors, starting with the billionaire Ivanishvili, who actually ousted Mikheil Saakashvili, Kvirikashvili, as a member of the same party, will continue the policy of cooperation with Belarus. Olga Petrashevskaya has more on this topic.