The coronavirus restricts contacts and strengthens solidarity

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By Dzianis Melyantsou

Due to the coronavirus spread, Belarus’ contacts with the West have predictably winded up: foreign visits either canceled or postponed, borders closed and economic activity significantly reduced. Nevertheless, some states, regardless of somewhat strained relations with Belarus, have shown support and solidarity.

Last week, it was announced that Lukashenka’s visit to Latvia was postponed indefinitely upon Latvia’s request. Lithuania and Poland extended the entry ban for foreign nationals until April 13. The visit of Deputy Foreign Minister Krauchanka to Canada was replaced with a video conference with the participation of Canadian government agencies and business circles. The Austrian Aviation Authority did not extend the Belavia Airlines’ authorization to operate regular flights on the Minsk-Vienna route.

Simultaneously, Lithuania extended the transit corridor for Belarusians until April 13, i.e. for the quarantine period. The United States announced plans to allocate USD 1.3 million for Belarus to fight the coronavirus spread.

On March 25th, Belstat published a report, marking a decrease in Belarus’ trade with the European Union in January 2020 at 33.8% to USD 802.1 million as compared with January last year. To a large extent, the decrease was due to the lingering conflict between Minsk and Moscow over the supply of petrochemicals.

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