Belarus’ western policy: low activity amid further spread of the coronavirus

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Author: Maximilian Schönherr, under Creative Commons 3.0

By Dzianis Melyantsou

Minsk’s usual communication with the West has slumped due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the Foreign Ministry web site's news section was updated only once (seldom happened), to report about the ongoing negotiations on assistance in combatting the consequences of the pandemic.

On April 16th, Belarus’ First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kruty held a videoconference with Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Alain Pilloux. After the meeting, it was reported that Minsk had requested EBRD a USD 1 billion loan to support companies from the most affected sectors of the economy. The parties had agreed that the bank would not apply penalties to Belarus should she fail to meet her obligations due to the quarantine measures.

It has also become known that the EU will finance several initiatives at USD 250,000 within the project entitled “Supporting local economic development in the Republic of Belarus”. These initiatives would be designed to help local businesses to respond more efficiently to the changing economic environment caused by emergencies, such as the COVID-19. The project will be implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Belarusian Economy Ministry.