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Bundestag MPs on 26th session of OSCE PA in Minsk

An even more ambitious political forum will be held in Minsk in early July. About 600 eminent personalities from 56 countries will come to Belarus to take part in the session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Most of all are from the United States and one of the largest delegations will be from Germany.

Germany is the most important economic partner of Belarus in Western Europe. Germany has parliamentary elections exactly three months later and in order to win the current authorities need to ensure security in the country. The OSCE is one of the tools to prove that the German orchestra plays the European symphony of security. Germany presided over the OSCE in 2016 and its authority is undeniable. Our correspondent Yana Shipko has more on the forthcoming forum in Minsk.

Yana Shipko, political observer:
German Bundestag will perhaps change this autumn. Germany is now on the eve of parliamentary elections. The intrigue is whether the Merkel party retains its authority or populists again suddenly pop up amid the disintegration processes in Europe, the migrant crisis and the wave of terrorist attacks. Germany is one of the active members of the OSCE, and last year it chaired this largest regional security organization in the world. Now Berlin pays special attention to the summer session of the OSCE in Minsk. By the way, German deputies view this visit as an opportunity to acquaint German investors with the opportunities of Belarus.

Jürgen Klimke, member of the Bundestag:
On my return I hope to say: buddy, we did not know that this is such a cool country! One can have great vacations in Belarus.

Without jokes, the deputy of the Bundestag, Jürgen Klimke will come to Minsk with his wife. He hopes to have time to go shopping and go by public transport around the city. He is one of the eight German parliamentary delegates for the forthcoming session in Minsk. This will not be his first visit to the Belarus capital. He was part of the mission of observers, again, under the aegis of the OSCE. He remembers not only the elections themselves...

Jürgen Klimke:
I was at the polling station where the President voted, and I was asked if it was in accordance with international standards that his son put the ballot into the box. I replied that this was the will of the President, the son did not influence the choice in any way, and that such a symbolic gesture, of course, is not prohibited. Everyone became interested in this moment!

The ex-journalist, Jürgen Klimke, noticed a lot of details for doing business in Belarus. By the way, in the German parliament, he is on the commission for economic cooperation.

Jürgen Klimke:
I was in Minsk during the Christmas season. If I go through Berlin or my native Hamburg, 30% of the city looks festive but in Minsk, everything is 150% festive. A lot of lighting, jewelry and it appeals. In the summer, I'm sure it will be very beautiful too. And I felt completely safe, this is a very calm city.

Of course, the formal meetings will be followed by direct communication. We will meet with Belarusian delegates to discuss bilateral and global issues. I think there will be time for informal communication. This will advance us in cooperation. We are already preparing proposals in various fields - economy, transport, and education.

Summer sessions of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in various years were hosted Monaco and Helsinki, Baku and Oslo. The Assembly itself initiated to hold the 26th in Minsk. This is a pleasant compliment to the Belarus negotiation platform on Ukraine at the world level. After all, since the Normandy 4 meeting Europeans say about Minsk only as a "peacemaker".

Yana Shipko:
Germany was the OSCE chairman last year, which topics will be the most important for discussion?

Jürgen Klimke:
We hope that the activities in the European region, in Central and Eastern Europe, will now intensify in order to have a calm zone in the future, in light of the Ukrainian crisis, which is not yet resolved. This is the case when the OSCE remains the leading organization advocating peace, security and freedom. And Belarus also plays an important role in this.

Yana Shipko:
Minsk was not chosen accidentally as the venue for the talks?

Jürgen Klimke:
Behind this lies a strategic approach. First of all, it is a symbolic step to demonstrate the important role that Belarus has recently played in the Ukrainian issue and in general in attempts to bring peace, freedom and future interaction in Europe to the so-called state of meditation. In recent months, relations with the EU have improved, and this is the right approach. We also want to work further.

From Vancouver to Vladivostok. The territorial coverage of the Euro-Atlantic inter-parliamentary forum is unique. About 600 participants from 57 countries will come to Minsk. The most representative delegations from the states is almost 50 people. And even the dwarf states - Liechtenstein, Monaco and the Vatican - did not stand aside and have already accredited their representatives.

Peace, terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and human rights are on the agenda of the forum. Belarus is preparing its resolution on countering new types of drugs.

The Minsk session will also serve as a platform for economic negotiations. Johann Wadephul was in Belarus in March and personally appreciated the potential for cooperation.

Johann Wadephul, deputy head of the German-Belarusian parliamentary group of the Bundestag:
The choice of Minsk for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is a kind of signal: we are interested in continuing the dialogue and expanding cooperation. In the economy, it should become more intensive, we are interested in German companies investing in Belarus. This requires stability and mutual trust. And parliamentary contacts are very important. We communicate with the government, with the deputies, and this is such a useful exchange of views.

Yana Shipko:
Probably investors need a little more information about Belarus. Do parliamentarians act as a kind of guides?

Johann Wadephul:
You are absolutely right, entrepreneurs need to know more about the investment attractiveness of Belarus. I think you have many opportunities for investment. You have well-educated specialists. Investors are cautious people, so we need to continue working to create favorable conditions, and there is potential for growth. These can also be scientific exchanges. Germany, as you know, does not have the lowest taxes, but we have good technology. And not all production facilities are located directly in Germany, we need production sites.

This is the governmental quarter of Berlin. Offices of German deputies are directly opposite the Reichstag. Two buildings on different banks of the Spree River in the east and west are symbolically connected by a bridge. One of the most experienced parliamentarians, Professor Egon Jüttner, knew well the first chancellor of the united Germany, who did much to bring the East and West closer politically.

Egon Jüttner, a member of the Bundestag:
Helmut Kohl recently passed away. We are both from Mannheim. He lost his brother in WWII and always repeated: the main thing is not to allow war. Therefore, I greatly appreciate the work of the OSCE in ensuring peace and security in Europe.

Belarus is committed to the same principles. The deputy is convinced that the hosting party will have the most opportunities within the forum to enter into a political dialogue and be heard on the international arena. The professor himself speaks all the official languages ​​of the OSCE, except Russian: English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, and in addition he also knows Swedish, so in Minsk he plans to establish many contacts and taste Belarusian cuisine.

Egon Jüttner:
This is an occasion for delegates from so many countries to get to know Belarus and taste it. In addition to the official, a cultural program and some tours are planned. It is interesting to discover Belarus from different sides. My wife will go with me. Therefore, this is an excellent opportunity for Minsk to present itself.

Bundestag MPs on 26th session of OSCE PA in Minsk