Communication with the USA has reached new highs
On February 1st, 2020, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Belarus. This was the first visit of such level in over a quarter of a century, which had symbolically concluded the five-year normalization process.
Like the visit of US Assistant to the President for National Security Bolton last year, the meeting between Pompeo and Lukashenka did not mean to lead to concrete agreements; this was a reconnaissance visit, a fact-finding mission to confirm the chosen course aimed at restoring bilateral relations. The visit also reflected Washington’s growing interest in Belarus, as the latter has increasingly demonstrated the difference between her policies and the Russian ones. In addition, the USA saw an opportunity to use such differences in the geopolitical rivalry. Minsk, in turn, is interested in demonstrating an alternative to Russia, hoping in this way to influence the outcome of energy talks with Moscow.
After high-level bilateral talks, several noteworthy statements were made. Firstly, about the US readiness to supply energy to Belarus (at competitive prices), secondly, about approaching the lifting of sanctions, thirdly, about willingness to invest in the Belarusian economy, and finally, about the imminent appointment of the US ambassador. Moreover, at a joint briefing, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei said that “Belarus would welcome a more active role of the United States in Belarus.”
The parties also discussed the conflict-resolution efforts in Ukraine, however, Pompeo made it clear that the United States was not ready to engage more actively in the process, as Belarus suggested. The State Secretary also paid a visit to the High-Tech Park, which made it possible to conclude about the US economic interests’ priority in Belarus.
Overall, Pompeo’s visit was a breakthrough in bilateral political relations, taking them to a new, higher level. Meanwhile, it would be premature to speak about concrete agreements, since the parties discussed a wide range of issues and marked promising areas for future cooperation. That said, the negotiations were held in a very positive atmosphere.