By Igor Slavinsky
A credential is usually a letter, signed by the head of a foreign state, vouching for the bearer. The diplomats’ official mission in Belarus begins from the moment they present their credentials to the President, with ceremonies taking place at the Palace of the Republic several times annually. The Belarusian President gives a speech and chats with diplomats, using the event to accent the directions of our foreign policy. This time, much was spoken about Minsk-Warsaw relations.
Addressing the new Polish Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Leszek Szerepka, Mr. Lukashenko noted, “I’d like us to improve our relations, with your participation; we’re ready for this.” The renewal of parity and respectful interaction with Poland is a priority for Belarusian foreign policy.
Noting the professional qualities of the diplomat, Mr. Lukashenko requested ‘that his mission should not be a waste of time’. He then explained that he doesn’t hope the new head of the Polish diplomatic mission would ‘open the eyes’ of some politicians in Poland, who are well aware of Belarus and of the processes happening here. “I’d like it if you, as a respected person, could add your own good word, making a positive contribution to the development of co-operation between the fraternal nations of Belarus and Poland,” noted the President, adding, “It is very important.”
According to Mr. Lukashenko, at present, relations with our neighbour are darkened by political intrigue and negative stereotypes towards Belarus. Explaining his priorities, he stressed the sovereignty and independence of Belarus, “We’ve proven ourselves to be a sovereign independent state; we’re determined to protect our sovereignty and independence at any cost, even if we remain isolated. Saying this, nobody is alone in this world. If Poland and other countries understand what is most important to us, we’ll always be able to build relations in other spheres.”
The President also tackled the issue of the Belarusian diaspora. “We have many Poles in our country. I’ve often told your Foreign Minister and your former leaders that these are my Poles, the citizens of my country and people who’ve always supported me. We aren’t against you supporting and helping ethnic Poles in Belarus and we’d be grateful if you would also support and assist our Belarusians in Poland,” noted Mr. Lukashenko.
The simplification of the border crossing regime, recently agreed by Minsk and Warsaw, is an important issue for both Poles and Belarusians. “We need to make this border between us transparent, since we are almost one nation. We used to live as one state, so we have much to recollect and great future prospects in our relationship,” asserted Mr. Lukashenko. Mr. Szerepka promised that, as a diplomat, he would endeavour to find ways to promote mutually beneficial relations. “We aren’t fighting,” he underlined. Journalists and other diplomats listened attentively during the exchange.
The ambassadors of South Korea, Kyrgyzstan and Palestine begin their diplomatic missions in our country, in addition to those from Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Paraguay and the South African Republic. “We’re trying to establish good, trusting relations with each state but won’t accept discrimination in any form,” Mr. Lukashenko emphasised.