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Is Belavezha Forest under threat from Poland?
Poland continues the mass logging of Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Belavezha Forest), one of the last reserves of primeval forest in Europe and a UNESCO heritage site. Despite a call from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to protect the forest,...
29 March 2017
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Has Makei cast a spell on Western diplomats?

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...

17 February 2017
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Belarus’s neighbours: patronising and obliging – Belarus Foreign Policy Digest

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...

31 January 2017
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Belarusian diplomacy in 2016 – annual foreign policy digest

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...

22 November 2016
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No compromise between Belarus and Lithuania on Astraviec NPP

On 15 November, Lithuanian Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis presented his country's new energy strategy. Although it is not stated directly, the strategy strongly implies that Lithuania will not buy electricity from the Belarusian nuclear power plant, which will begin...

16 November 2016
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Three ‘thorns in the flesh’ of Belarus-Poland relations

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...

3 November 2016
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Trade and geopolitics to counterbalance Russia – Belarus Foreign Policy Digest

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...

20 October 2016
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Belarus and Poland: is the difficult period finally over?

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...

15 September 2016
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Belarusian MFA and the diaspora: a complicated relationship

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...

2 September 2016
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Central and Eastern European dimension of Belarusian diplomacy – Belarus foreign policy digest

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...

17 August 2016
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Why Does Europe Engage with Belarus’s Rubber Stamp Parliament?

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...

25 May 2016
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Astraviec Nuclear Plant: a Poison for Belarus-Lithuania Relations?

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...

11 May 2016
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Cooperation with Podlasie, Union of Poles, IT Startups, Chernobyl Myths – State Press Digest

On the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster government officials are trying to dispel some common Chernobyl myths circulating in Belarusian society. The authorities are preparing for the All-Belarusian Assembly in June – an event that aims to add legitimacy...

8 April 2016
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Upgrading Relations with Europe, Winning in an Embassy Row – Belarus Foreign Policy Digest

In recent weeks, Belarus managed to noticeably upgrade the level of its relations with EU countries. However, the ministerial-level meetings have been limited to Belarus’ long-time sympathisers in Europe (Hungary and Slovenia) as well as its closest neighbours (Poland). The...

23 February 2016
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Poland Lures “the Best Migrants in the World” from Belarus

On 28 January the Polish Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers proposed granting residence permits to a million migrants currently in Poland. The majority of them are Ukrainians, followed by Belarusians and Vietnamese. In recent years Poland has been aiming its...