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. His twitter is @IgarGubarevich
On 14 May, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met at the One Belt, One Road Forum in Beijing.
This became the two leaders’ fourth encounter since May 2015. Indeed, as Sharif said at the meeting, relations between Pakistan and Belarus have been strengthening ‘with every passing day’ over the past two years....
Belarus’s recent regression in the human rights field has failed to visibly affect the intensity of its contacts with Europe. However, European governments seem to have taken note of the criticism they received for their initially meek reaction and have been voicing their concerns both publicly and (more often) privately.
Lukashenka’s ‘indiscriminate and inappropriate...
On 30-31 March, talks were held in Ashgabat between Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenka.
The launch of the $1bn Garlyk potash fertiliser plant which Belarus built in the country differentiated this encounter from other such annual meetings between Turkmenistan and Belaurs.
The economic cooperation and training of Turkmen...
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....