- 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.
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...
On 2 – 4 August, Ryszard Terlecki, vice-speaker of the Polish Sejm, led the highest-level parliamentary delegation of an EU country to Minsk in twenty years.
This visit is emblematic of the increasingly common nature of inter-parliamentary contacts between Belarus and Europe. The marginalised Belarusian parliament has been slowly gaining international recognition.
Working-level contacts between Belarus and the European Union are thriving. However, this has been the case for a few years now. Brussels apparently expects much more from Minsk in order to proceed to the highest-level of dialogue with Belarus.
In the eight months since the initial suspension and subsequent removal of EU sanctions, no European head of state has visited Belarus....
In May, Belarus fought another battle for the traditional family at the UN, even if its stance on the issue antagonises the West and finds little international support outside of the Islamic world.
The country maintained an active dialogue with Europe but mostly at a working level. Unlike in previous months, not a single European foreign minister visited Belarus.
In the recent months, the issue of the nuclear power plant (NPP) that Belarus is building near its border with Lithuania has been dominating bilateral relations. Lithuanian politicians are seeking to block potential exports of electric energy from Belarus.
Vilnius is worried about environmental and safety issues. Minsk sees economic and political motives behind Lithuania's claims....
In April, Belarus and Europe continued re-establishing contact at different levels. Belarus welcomed the Bulgarian foreign minister and senior diplomats from Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the institutional level, Minsk and Brussels inaugurated their new dialogue format, the Coordination Group.
Belarus’ economic interests prompted the government to call for stronger...