Myasnikovich visits Azerbaijan
On 7-8 July a governmental delegation headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich paid an official visit to Azerbaijan. During the visit the Prime Minister met with President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Artur Rasi-zade, inter alia with other officials and business representatives.
The Belarusian government and Prime Minister Myasnikovich continue gaining political weight and effectively assumed the functions of the Foreign Ministry. Each new foreign visit, organized by a team of Myasnikovich, serves to improve the international confidence in the government, which is carefully transformed into a major center of the country’s negotiations with the East. Bearing in mind the fact that Belarus hopes to come out of financial crisis with the assistance of foreign financial aid, the improvement of international credibility will result in increased domestic political impact of the Prime Minister’s new team.
While organizing the visit to Azerbaijan, press service of the government has particularly emphasized that the visit was taking place following an invitation of the Azerbaijani side, thereby the PM team sets off its bargaining authority against the Administration. The development of the Eastern policy by the government is a particularly positive move against the background of the de facto international isolation of Lukashenko and of his closest colleagues in the Presidential Administration. Development of the Eastern policy is virtually the only available direction, given visa ban on the majority of them.
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.