Martin Oberg: ‘We can surely advance’

It’s time for Belarusians and Swedes to become more closely acquainted
It’s time for Belarusians and Swedes to become more closely acquainted. We have many mutual interests. Below are the current thoughts of the  on the topic.

How did the event — which will remain in Belarusians’ memory and history forever connected to Sweden (The Nobel Prize ceremony for the Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich in Stockholm) — influence your views of Belarus?

Firstly, I congratulate you and all Belarusians on this award which creates huge opportunities to demonstrate what Belarus is like. On reading Ms. Alexievich’s books, one can gain a much better understanding of Belarusians.

You were given Svetlana Alexievich’s books during your meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister — Yelena Kupchina. Do you think that the meeting at the Foreign Ministry paved the way for opening a new positive page in relations between our two countries? 

Actually, this was a Presidential gift. Afterwards, I was asked by many whether I had read Ms. Alexievich’s books. I can confirm that I have: I’ve read two books and am now reading the third. I understand the Belarusian soul a bit better after reading them. 

Speaking of our relations, compared with 2012, progress is evident. This has happened because of our mutual approach and joint work with the Foreign Ministry. We should discuss issues which are of mutual interest, as well as those which arouse some dispute. Most importantly, dialogue must be open and based on trust to enable good understanding of each other and allow our work to continue. Happily, we’ve managed this with both the Belarusian authorities and Foreign Ministry.

I hope that the Belarusian Embassy will once again open in Stockholm. Sweden would appreciate this practically as it would make it possible to simplify the visa issue, while providing more information on Belarus in Sweden.

What is your view on the potential for our co-operation against the positive dynamics of Belarus’ dialogue with the European Union?

The potential is great. Sweden views Belarus as a European country which can independently decide what relations to enjoy with the EU. Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union. This means a choice has been made which we respect. It’s important to work together and see what can do jointly.

How did Stockholm respond to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s Proposal to think over new documents to further strengthen and develop Belarus-EU relations?

As I’ve said, Sweden views Belarus as a modern European country and we welcome such overtures. We’ve made important progress in Belarus-EU relations and I think we can move further. I hope we’ll continue our advances — so that a new document contributing to the development and strengthening of relations will soon be signed.

By Nina Romanova

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