- Igar Gubarevich is a senior analyst of the Ostrogorski Centre based in Minsk. He grew up in Bielaaziorsk in Brest region and graduated with honours from the Minsk State Institute of Foreign Languages. In 1993 – 2006, Igar worked in various diplomatic positions at the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, including postings in New York and Paris.
Ever since it released important political prisoners in August 2015, the Belarusian government has rarely resorted to outright violence against dissidents. This paradigm shift facilitated the removal or suspension of most Western sanctions against Belarus. The parties were able to move from confrontational rhetoric to positive dialogue.
The Belarusian authorities’ resolute return...
Minsk alludes to 'shared values' with Europe as Brussels downplays repression - Belarus Foreign Policy Digest
Security services have so far detained over 150 protesters following mass rallies in Belarus. Many were arrested or fined, and some were beaten.
However, the authorities' return to mass repression of the opposition has provoked a muted reaction from Western democracies. The government’s actions have so far failed to disrupt the intensive dialogue between Minsk and European...
Recent statements by Belarusian officials have confirmed that the country's citizens should not expect a more liberal visa regime with Europe in the foreseeable future. Belarus's decision to introduce a conditional visa-free regime for nationals of eighty countries, many of them European, does not mean Europe has to reciprocate.
Georgia and Ukraine, Belarus’s fellow...
From January to early February 2016, Belarus and Lithuania drifted further apart as their diplomats exchanged tart-tongued statements over the safety of the Astraviec NPP and Belarus’s sovereignty. Alexander Lukashenka, who remains unwelcome in the EU, travelled to more sympathetic Egypt and Sudan.
The Belarusian authorities continued with their efforts to restore the...
In 2016, Belarusian diplomats succeeded in getting rid of most Western sanctions, improving the international legitimacy of the national parliament, regularising dialogue with Europe, and converting Poland from a strong critic into a good partner.
Nevertheless, they failed to make Lukashenka fully presentable to his peers in Europe, alienated Ukraine’s political elite, botched...
Belarus’s diplomatic activities slowed down before the holidays in December. The country’s diplomacy focused mostly on a multilateral agenda in preparation for its chairmanship of the Central European Initiative, as well as manoeuvring at the United Nations.
Foreign minister Vladimir Makei’s statement at an OSCE meeting was perhaps meant to be a programme declaration,...
In November, the Belarusian president held meetings with leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, and a high-level EU delegation.
The Slovakian Prime Minister's visit to Minsk ended a six-year long hiatus in bilateral visits of European leaders to Minsk. Alexander Lukashenka now seems to be more comfortable meeting with European emissaries than with Vladimir Putin.
On 15 November, at the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, the Belarusian delegation voted against a draft resolution tabled by Ukraine on the human rights situation in Crimea.
This vote, along with Belarus’s failed attempt to adjourn debate on all country-specific texts, was perceived as a trick to torpedo Ukraine’s initiative and has angered many in Belarus and...
Despite some recent positive trends in relations between Belarus and Poland, several unresolved issues hamper their full normalisation.
Warsaw remains largely bound by the European Union’s official policy towards Minsk. The Belarusian authorities are suspicious of Poland’s support of democratic forces in Belarus.
Meanwhile, Poland’s conservative government has...
With the summer holiday period finally over, Belarusian diplomacy has gone into overdrive.
In September – October, Belarusian officials spoke with representatives of over thirty nations, ranging from deputy foreign ministers to heads of state. Poland has transformed from being Belarus's staunchest critic to its main advocate in Europe.
The search for new export and...
Belarus and Poland are moving closer towards a rapprochement, with Belarusian foreign minister Vladimir Makei paying a working visit to Warsaw on 10 October.
His Polish counterpart, Witold Waszczykowski, seems to have a personal affinity for Makei; Waszczykowski trusts that President Alexander Lukashenka’s intentions to mend bilateral ties between Minsk and Warsaw are sincere....
At the UN General Assembly session in New York in late September, foreign minister Vladimir Makei and his deputy Valentin Rybakov worked to promote Belarus’s geopolitical philosophy alongside a few more concrete priorities.
The priorities included broader access to UN development assistance, protection of traditional family values, nuclear disarmament and development of trade...
Speaking at a meeting of the Consultative Council for Belarusians Living Abroad on 5 September in Minsk, Belarus's foreign minister Vladimir Makei sought support from the Belarusian diaspora in preserving the country's “independence, sovereignty and statehood”.
This is a recent and noteworthy trend. Earlier, the government's interaction with Belarusians living...
In July and August, Belarusian diplomats kept busy reinforcing ties with the country’s partners in Central and Eastern Europe. These relationships may prove to be instrumental in bolstering Belarus's foreign policy positions.
Foreign minister Vladimir Makei travelled to Kyiv in the midst of another flare-up in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. His deputy Alena Kupchyna...