Minsk resumes contacts with the West and closes the border with the EU

Category status:
- (The situation has not changed)
26-01.11.2020
Здымак мае ілюстрацыйны характарImage by Marc Vanduffel from Pixabay

From one side, Minsk cautiously reboots communication with some EU states and the United States, but on the other, closes Belarus’ borders for foreign nationals.

On October 27th, further to a telephone conversation between US Secretary of State Pompeo and Lukashenka, political strategist Vitaly Shklyarov was released and left the country. This event was undoubtedly a confidence-building move between the Belarusian authorities and Washington and evidenced the desire (primarily Minsk’s) to continue the process of stabilizing relations, which had started before the elections.

On October 29th, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleinik met with German Ambassador Manfred Huterer. According to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, the parties discussed cooperation between Belarus and Germany, as well as the interaction between the two states within international organizations. In early October, the German Ambassador was recalled to Berlin for negotiations in solidarity with the forced departure of the heads of diplomatic missions of Poland and Lithuania. Judging by the fact that the meeting took place at the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, he resumed his work in Minsk.

On October 28th, Foreign Minister Makei had a telephone conversation with the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry reported that the parties discussed the situation in Belarus, prospects for bilateral Belarus-Swiss relations and confirmed their interest in continuing a constructive dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation.

On October 26th, Lukashenka sent his congratulations to the federal president of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen on the National Day. The congratulation said that “Belarus is interested in expanding bilateral ties and anticipates more effective interaction to maintain a dialogue with the European Union. […] In today's difficult conditions, we must not allow all which has been achieved be lost."

On October 30th, Belarus suddenly closed borders with the Baltic states, Poland, and Ukraine, for non-Belarusian nationals. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry responded with a protest note and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevicus expressed doubts that the border was closed due to coronavirus.