Dialogue yields positive results

Alexander Lukashenko meets Grigory Ioffe, Professor of Radford University, who has written several books about Belarus

Alexander Lukashenko meets Grigory Ioffe, Professor of Radford University, who has written several books about Belarus

Grigory IoffeDuring the meeting, the Head of State noted that the opinion of external, objective and interested experts — such as Grigory Ioffe — are vital in evaluating the situation in Eastern Europe. “It’s very important for us, especially in this challenging period of uneasy relations: not only for Belarus and the West, but for states located in Eastern Europe. It’s important because of the array of problems which have recently escalated in Ukraine, in Belarus, and in Russia: economic crises and other issues,” noted the President.

A Professor at Radford University, Grigory Ioffe is well-known in Minsk, having dedicated many years to studying Belarusian issues. He has written several books on the country and presented his latest edition in Minsk recently (on sale in the USA since last November). Besides comprising valuable research, it is a commercial venture: western publishers are, primarily, pragmatic businessmen. He also writes weekly essays about Belarus for the Washington Analytical Centre: the Jamestown Foundation.

His meeting with the President also tackled the organisation of a visit to Minsk by a group of American analysts: as was organised some time ago, arousing major interest in US expert circles. “Your reasoning and your assessment of the situation in Belarus are very important, both for the international community and for understanding the processes happening here today,” underlined the Head of State.

Belarusian subjects are currently popular overseas and Mr. Ioffe believes that interest has risen significantly of late, particularly following Minsk’s role in seeking peace regarding the Ukrainian problem, acting as a negotiation venue. This has yielded fruit in the form of concrete agreements. Moreover, increasing numbers of foreigners are gaining first hand experience of Belarus, having attended international events — such as the World Ice Hockey Championship and vital integration summits. Journalists, businessmen, tourists and specialists visit Belarus, and Belarusians are becoming frequent guests to the West: our citizens are among the leaders in terms of the number of issued Schengen visas per capita.

Those who have personal experience of Belarus view it as an open and hospitable country: home to benevolent and kindly people. Nevertheless, little information tends to permeate westwards. We need such persons as Professor Ioffe to make their contribution, so that more people worldwide learn of the ‘real’ Belarus.

By Vladimir Khromov
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