“Old” Europe discovers Belarus
The Belarusian diplomacy efforts aimed at engaging with individual EU member states are beginning to bring results: there has been an increase in high-level visits and a greater interest in interacting with Minsk in various spheres.
During bilateral talks with EU member states, the parties almost always discuss Belarus-EU relations, which has a special mention in press releases. Minsk is attempting to give momentum to a sectoral dialogue and protracted negotiations with the EU in various areas (primarily on partnership priorities).
Last week, a delegation of the French Senate headed by the Chairman of the France-Belarus friendship group in the Senate, Charles Guene, visited Minsk. During the meeting at the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, the parties noted active Belarusian-French inter-parliamentary interactions.
Charles Guene said that France was ready to assist Belarus in ensuring safety of the nuclear power plant being built in Ostrovets. Minsk-Paris interactions on this matter may help to mitigate Lithuania’s position regarding the Belarusian nuclear power plant and unblock negotiations with the EU on partnership priorities.
On April 17th, Martin Harris, Director of Eastern Europe and Central Asia Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office visited Minsk. Among other things, the parties discussed the prospects for bilateral cooperation after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
On April 18th, the opening ceremony of the new office of the Finnish Embassy in Minsk was held. On this occasion, Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Economic Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland Markku Keinänen arrived in Belarus. The parties discussed bilateral economic cooperation, Belarus’ accession to the WTO and Belarus-EU cooperation in the view of the Finnish presidency in the EU Council in H2 2019.
In addition, media reported, that the Belarusian President had been invited to the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership.