Ukrainian crisis and geopolitical pressure between Russia and the West has triggered a need for development of Belarusian-American relations
The U.S. congressional delegation visited Minsk in the beginning of August. Among the members of the diplomatic party there have been the U.S. Chairman and the representative of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats; and the representative of the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.
The officials met with the Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko, Deputy Foreign Minister Guryanov, National Bank Chairperson Kallaur, the members of the Diplomatic Corps, and the leading members of the civil society.
The delegation discussed bilateral U.S. – Belarusian relations, human rights and democratisation issues, the state of the Belarusian economy and regional security, including the crisis in Ukraine.
According to the Belarusian Ministry of International Affairs, the visit has led to understanding that from now on a new constructive phase will commence in the relations between Belarus and the USA. Both sides hope Minsk meetings will be the catalyst for a new era of cooperation between Belarus and America.
“Of course we shouldn’t expect that this meeting would automatically lead to complete restart of the relations between Minsk and Washington. Political disagreements on human rights and democracy in Belarus are still actual,” said Arseni Sivitski, the director of the Centre for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies (Belarus).
“Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, Belarusian-American relations diplomatically improved. During this year numerous bilateral official meetings have taken place. This warming in our relations was due to the U.S. recognition of the constructive role in the organisation of negotiations on the Ukrainian crisis which Belarus hosted in Minsk,” added Sivitski.
The first step to approach the renovation of the relations should be recommencement of the American Embassy in Minsk and Belarusian Embassy in Washington. The need for this step was raised during negotiations between the congressmen and Alexander Lukashenko.
The delegation stressed the United States’ commitment to supporting the sovereignty and the independence of all the states.
The congressmen spoke about finding the prerequisites for peace in the region, which include improved cooperation with Belarus in the areas of mutual interest. They also emphasized long-standing concerns of the U.S. for the need to take steps on human rights and democracy, particularly in the run-up to 2015 presidential elections.
By Olga Chiruk.
Photo credit: Arseni Sivitski’s personal archive.