When essence of meeting is more vital than protocol

News ambassadors of a range of foreign countries accredited in Minsk

By Denis Krymovsky

As each ambassador’s term of office ends, another takes their place. Traditionally, the President invites new heads of mission to present their credentials. While ambassadors represent the views of their home country, they also have some power to influence the policy of their states, so inter-state relations are, to some extent, defined in capitals.

As ever, at the event, the President found words to comment on relations with each country, while expressing his wishes for further liaisons.

This time, he told the new diplomats that he desired their sincere friendship with Belarusians, working to bring our countries closer. His short official speech explained the concise characteristics of interaction with each state represented. For example, Belarus and China are strategic partners — as brightly confirmed by our major joint projects (both under realisation and planned).

Belarus has been paying close attention to its liaisons with the Vatican, as we share close positions ‘in ensuring peace and mutual understanding between nations, equal rights across countries and the support of traditional religious faiths’. Addressing the ambassadors of Norway, Luxembourg and San Marino, Mr. Lukashenko voiced his interest ‘in attracting advanced European technologies and capital to modernise the Belarusian economy’. Political dialogue is the focus but ‘only on equal terms’.

Israel occupies a special place in Belarusian foreign policy. As Mr. Lukashenko noted, “We welcome the initiatives of the new ambassador, aimed at further strengthening of our inter-state relations.” Much hope is being placed on interaction with Japan. So far, our co-operation focuses mainly on humanitarian projects. “However, it’s time that we realise our potential in economic and sci-tech spheres,” the President stressed. Meanwhile, Belarus views Argentina as a leading partner in Latin America and hopes to develop its co-operation with Ethiopia.

At the end of the official ceremony, guests were offered champagne and were able to chat informally. Mr. Lukashenko also made several important announcements.

 

On sanctions

As regards the sanctions which Europe is placing on us, we have so far tolerated these. However, as soon as you cross the line, we’ll respond rigidly.

We are at the centre of Europe, with 100m tonnes of cargo safely traversing us from East to West. We are building terminals at the border, allowing your cargoes in and out, ensuring their security. No complaints have yet been received so I don’t understand what else Europe needs. Do you wish to see Belarus become unstable… surely not? Do you dislike me and my course of action? I won’t step aside while I’m being elected to the post of President. If people vote for me, it shows their support for my policies. These remain unchanged: I’m faithful to my nation...

We simply want to be like you: freedom loving, independent and responsible for our people. We proceed from the wishes of our nation.

 

On interaction with China
There is absolutely no tension in our relations with China. Some may have tension regarding Belarusian-Chinese relations, but that is their concern. We are friends with China not simply for the sake of friendship but for the sake of co-operation, to our mutual interest. This is a place where the Chinese are always welcome. We’ll always welcome you here regardless of any reproaches or admonitions, as your leader has always supported us in our time of need and we’ll always remember this.

 

On the Israeli avenue
I strongly hope that Belarus will occupy a special place in your heart not only as an ambassador (something from which I know you’ll never escape). I heard your interview with our TV company and agree with almost everything you said: your general ideas and stance deserve respect. It seems to me that we’ll have an ambassador of Israel in Belarus with a special view and stance.

Mr. Lukashenko also asked the diplomat to deliver his warmest regards to former compatriots, who have emigrated from Belarus to Israel.

 

On prospects for co-operation with Japan
According to Mr. Lukashenko, the construction of a plant to produce Japanese cars is among the most interesting projects for possible realisation in Belarus. “We’ll provide the most preferential terms. Manufacture your cars here and sell them through our single customs space, trading with Europe. We’ll do our best in working with you. In fact, there are several projects we could implement, so you are welcome,” he said.

The President has guaranteed every possible assistance in dealing with the consequences of the Fukushima disaster. Japan once helped Belarus in a similar manner and huge joint experience has been accumulated in this field. Mr. Lukashenko noted, “Despite the tragedy, we still need peaceful nuclear energy. If you wish to build a nuclear power station somewhere, please consider Belarus as a top contender. You could build a magnificent nuclear power station in our country.”

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