Belarusian delegation in Venezuela
The Belarusian Delegation, headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Vladimir Semashko, visited Venezuela on 26 – 30 April.
The members of the delegation included Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik, Deputy Minister of Architecture and Construction Sergei Lastochkin, Deputy Industry Minister Gennadiy Sviderski, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Foodstuffs Leonid Marynich, Deputy Chairman of the Belneftekhim, Vladimir Volkov, as well as representatives of several Belarusian enterprises.
Comment. In addition to the existing extensive programme of the Belarusian-Venezuelan cooperation on the construction of Venezuelan sites, it appears that the parties will discuss other issues, primarily economic. However, given the current economic crisis in Venezuela, one should not expect significant funds coming to Belarus from them.
Belarus buys oil from Venezuela for almost $ 800 per tonne, while Russia supplies at $ 430. Moreover, the current contract with Russia obliges Belarus to buy 22 million tons of oil, which makes economically inefficient the purchase of 4 million tons of the overseas oil. It is possible that the subject of negotiations (given Vladimir Semashko’s role of Energy supervisor in the country) will concern the prospects and the outcome of the diversification of oil supplies to Belarus and the end of the “Venezuelan” project (Azeri oil supply was also virtually frozen, only 600 million tons of oil were supplied from the needed 800 million tons, Mozyr oil refinery is closed in April and for the following two months for repairs, i.e. in addition to the controversial economic effect of the project, Belarus is physically not able to process the Venezuelan crude oil). Last week Belarus tried to negotiate processing of Azeri oil at Ukrainian refineries. It also shows the reduced interest of Belarus in the Venezuelan-Ukraine-Azerbaijan oil transport project.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.