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OSCE PA delegates' impressions about Belarus

Western politicians applauded to President Lukashenko not only out of courtesy. And not because he is President. The international audience is very different from the Belarusian audience and listeners from the post-Soviet countries: the mentality is different, the psychological attitudes are different, the brains are set in the opposite direction. Take Western Christians, for instance. They cross themselves from left to right, and not from right to left, like in the Orthodox Slavic world. They are influenced by their media, in their thin web of ideology. What did they read about Belarus in recent years, especially during the sanctions period? Basically, bad things...

And so they arrived with these ideas about Belarus. They heard Lukashenko as he is. They saw our life with their own eyes - not a dark city behind barbed wires, but a modern, beautiful, safe European capital, not ragamuffins tortured by the captivity but smiling, well-dressed, and educated people. Something turned upside down in the heads of Western politicians for sure, and this is also a big benefit of the Minsk forum. After all, we also come to Western countries and become surprised by something... Belarus surprised them too. Yana Shipko has more.

Yana Shipko, correspondent:
From millstones of great politics to Belarusian history. Delegates from all over the world came to Minsk with their families. One of the goals is to discover Belarus. Impressions are growing by leaps and bounds. To learn about such a distinctive Belarus and even taste it is worth a lot!

One of tourists is the Montella family - the family of the Secretary General of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

Roberto Montella, Secretary General of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
This is an excellent opportunity for Belarus to show how beautiful this country is, and for guests to see with their own eyes what Belarus is like. This wonderful evening exceeded all expectations; I was personally touched by how many Italian arias there were, especially Neapolitan, because I am from Naples.

Jürgen Klimke, representative of the German delegation at the 26th session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
We were simply struck by such a wonderful cultural evening, today we felt that art really unites, some even sang along. We strolled around the city, I'm not here for the first time, I noticed how the city develops positively, traffic is like in a big city, traffic lights with a countdown are clearly organized, it's a pleasure to stroll through the streets, parks, beautiful flowers, where everything is neat and clean. Minsk is a city with luster!

German-speaking Spaniard Adam Casals agreed with Mr. Klimke. The diplomat represents the Catalonia government in Vienna.

Adam Casals, head of the delegation of Catalonia at the 26th session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
Before I got here I thought Singapore was the cleanest city in the world, but now this title belongs to Minsk in my eyes.

Adam's homeland is in a difficult situation, since Catalonia is in anticipation of the October referendum and the region wants independence. Self-determination of nations, by the way, is one of the topics of the session.

Adam Casals:
All people are so hospitable, everywhere, at the hotel, even policemen!

And the native of Barcelona, ​​of course, he could not pass by the football stadium.

Adam Casals:
For us, football is also a means of integration, so I'm very pleased to see that you also have such a beautiful stadium being renovated. Sport is very important for every country. It's great that you have such a reminder of the Olympics 1980.

Yana Shipko:
In your opinion, has Belarus managed to become a bridge between the West and the East?

Adam Casals:
I always show my colleagues in the Vienna office that Belarus is much closer to the center of Europe than to the East. Therefore, you have very good prerequisites to play a central role. And now it is symbolic that the parliamentarians from the most important countries of the world met in Minsk, and your capital is again a place for dialogue. Belarusians should be proud of having made this possible by offering such a platform for negotiations.

The OSCE today is one of the few organizations that really unites the East and the West. From Vancouver to Vladivostok, as delegates like to repeat on the sidelines of the forum.

Chris Smith, representative of the US delegation to the 26th session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
I visited one of your research laboratories which studies stem cells. This is great progress. We could cooperate in this area, as well as in many others, for example, to counter together the trafficking in human beings. At yesterday's meeting with the President, I proposed to cooperate more actively between the parliamentary parties. This will have a positive impact on the development of our relations.

This is the first selfie with the Belarus President. The author of the photo, Victoria, is an employee of the Vienna office of the OSCE. A native of Belarus, she is not surprised by the excitement around the photo, because she could only dream of having a selfie with the first person in the country.

Victoria Rachitskaya-Carilec, member of the OSCE Office in Vienna:
Grandmother went out and called her friends to show her granddaughter with the President.

The youngest member of the delegation, Laurence, is only two and a half months old! She flew thousands of miles from another continent. Christine has been in the Canadian parliament for six years and during the election she was pregnant with the first child. Her unique example proves that children is not hindrance to career. And the last convocation of the Belarusian parliament is 34% female.

Yana Shipko:
Could you imagine living in Minsk with a child?

Christine Moore, representative of the Canadian delegation to the 26th session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
Of course, I do not know much about Belarus yet, but my daughter and I took a walk on the quay; there is a lot of water, green areas here, it's good for the family, there is space to walk and there is no sense of the stone jungle.

In the meantime, French senators preferred to leave the city for the sake of acquaintance with the Radziwill heritage.

Alain Neri, head of the delegation of France at the 26th session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
During the Napoleonic company, a lot of our ancestors went on their return from Moscow via the Berezina River. Victor Hugo wrote: "Behind one snow-covered steppe there is another snow-covered steppe." Now along the way, we said that one green field is followed by another green field. I think that my great-grandfather would walk through these green fields with pleasure, I regret that our ancestors were here because of the war. We are here to create a company of peace.

Yves Pozzo Di Borgo, representative of the delegation of France at the 26th session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
Everything is very well restored, I appreciated it. Restorers are Belarusian masters. We in France usually invite Italians for such works, but you do not need it! I was in many countries, but this is my first time in Belarus and it is a very calm country, good people. It's like Switzerland! When you arrive in Belarus, you remain under the impression; this is a very peaceful country, and the world should know more about you.

The French senators loved Belarusian flax too. Both American congressmen and English lords will take impressions and souvenirs with them. So people from around the world will find out about Belarus these days not only from the media.

OSCE PA delegates' impressions about Belarus