Foreign relations of Belarus

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The Byelorussian SSR was one of only two Soviet republics to be separate members of the United Nations (the other being the Ukrainian SSR). Both republics and the Soviet Union joined the UN when the organization was founded in 1945.

Prior to 2001[edit]

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, at which time Belarus gained its independence, Belarus became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NATO's Partnership for Peace, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. The adoption by Supreme Council of the BSSR of the declaration of State Sovereignty of Belarus in 1990 was a turning point on the development of the state. It has also been in a supranational union with Russia since 2 April 1996, although this has had little practical effect.

Belarus–Russia relations[edit]

The introduction of free trade between Russia and Belarus in mid-1995 led to a spectacular growth in bilateral trade, which was only temporarily reversed in the wake of the financial crisis of 1998. President Alexander Lukashenko sought to develop a closer relationship with Russia. The framework for the Union of Russia and Belarus was set out in the Treaty On the Formation of a Community of Russia and Belarus (1996), the Treaty on Russia-Belarus Union, the Union Charter (1997), and the Treaty of the Formation of a Union State (1999). The integration treaties contained commitments to monetary union, equal rights, single citizenship, and a common defence and foreign policy.

Belarus–European Union relations[edit]

Following the recognition of Belarus as an independent state in December 1991 by the European Community, EC/EU-Belarus relations initially experienced a steady progress. The signature of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in 1995 signaled a commitment to political, economic and trade cooperation. Some assistance was provided to Belarus within the framework of the TACIS programme and also through various aid programs and loans. However, progress in EU-Belarus relations stalled in 1996 after serious setbacks to the development of democracy, and the Drazdy conflict. The EU did not recognize the 1996 constitution, which replaced the 1994 constitution. The Council of the European Union decided against Belarus in 1997: The PCA was not concluded, nor was its trade-related part; Belarusian membership in the Council of Europe was not supported; bilateral relations at the ministerial level were suspended and EU technical assistance programs were frozen. Acknowledging the lack of progress in relation to bilateral relations and the internal situation following the position adopted in 1997, the EU adopted a step-by-step approach in 1999, whereby sanctions would be gradually lifted upon fulfillment of the four benchmarks set by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In 2000, some moderately positive developments toward the implementation of recommendations made by the OSCE AMG were observed but were not sufficient in the realm of access to fair and free elections.

Belarus–United States relations[edit]

The United States has encouraged Belarus to conclude and adhere to agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the program of macroeconomic stabilization and related reform measures, as well as to undertake increased privatization and to create a favorable climate for business and investment. Although there has been some American direct private investment in Belarus, its development has been relatively slow given the uncertain pace of reform. An Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreement was signed in June 1992 but has been suspended since 1995 because Belarus did not fulfill its obligations under the agreement. Belarus is eligible for Export-Import Bank short-term financing insurance for U.S. investments, but because of the adverse business climate, no projects have been initiated. The IMF granted standby credit in September 1995, but Belarus has fallen off the program and did not receive the second tranche of funding, which had been scheduled for regular intervals throughout 1996.

The United States - along with the European Union - has restricted the travel of President Alexander Lukashenko and members of his inner circle, as well as imposing economic sanctions.[1]

Present situation (2001 onwards)[edit]

Relations with the European Union[edit]

The structure of Belarus trade reflects the low competitiveness and output decline of manufacturing industry in the country over the past decade, leading to the predominance of primary production, work-intensive goods as exports. Belarusian exports to the EU consist mainly of agricultural and textile products, while imports from the EU are primarily machinery.

Belarus is a beneficiary of the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). The European Commission decided in 2003 to initiate an investigation into violations of freedom of association in Belarus as the first step towards a possible temporary withdrawal of the GSP from Belarus.

In December 2004, the EU adopted a position aimed at imposing travel restrictions on officials from Belarus responsible for the fraudulent parliamentary elections and referendum on 17 October 2004, and for human rights violations during subsequent peaceful political demonstrations in Minsk. The European Parliament released a statement in March 2005 in which it denounced the Belarusian government as a dictatorship. The European parliamentarians were primarily concerned about the suppression of independent media outlets in the country and the fraudulent referendum. A resolution of the European Parliament declared that the personal bank accounts of President Lukashenko and other high-ranking Belarusian officials should be tracked and frozen.

In 2005, Amnesty International reported a pattern of deliberate obstruction, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Belarus. Reporters Without Borders accused the Belarusian authorities of hounding and arresting journalists from the country's Polish minority. Lukashenko has closed the country's main Polish newspaper, printing a bogus paper instead with the same name and size that praises his incumbent government. Several foreign, mainly Polish, journalists have been arrested or expelled from the country. Lukashenko accused Poland of an attempt to overthrow his government by stirring up a peaceful revolution in Belarus comparable to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004.

Later in 2005 the Belarusian riot police seized the headquarters of the Union of Poles in Belarus, an association representing the 400,000 ethnic minority Polish living in western areas the country that were part of Poland until World War II. The dispute between Poland and Belarus escalated further as Poland responded by recalling its ambassador from Belarus for indefinite consultations, and called on the European Union to impose sanctions on the Belarusian leadership in order to curtail the human rights abuses in Belarus. Belarusian papers described this as a 'dirty political game', and part of a 'cold war' waged on president Lukashenko. Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld said a clampdown was under way, aimed at destroying "all elements of political pluralism and independence" in Belarus.

Members of the Eastern Partnership

In August 2005 the EU's executive commission called for human rights to be respected in Belarus. The commission said it was considering offering support to independent media in the country and had set aside more than eight million euros from its budget to offer support for human rights activities. France expressed her solidarity with Poland on the issue of human rights in Belarus a day after the EU declared it was worried about the situation in that country. Several former Soviet Republics, including neighbouring Ukraine, also expressed their concerns about the development of the situation in Belarus.

In May 2009 Belarus and the EU agree on cooperation in the Eastern Partnership (EaP). However, it is contended by some scholars that the (EaP) is unable to create a workable partnership.[2] This proved to be correct when Belarus withdrew from the Partnership on 30 September 2011.[3]

In August 2012, Belarus expelled all Swedish diplomats, including the Swedish Ambassador to Belarus, Stefan Eriksson, and closed its embassy in Stockholm, after a Swedish public relations firm released teddy bears carrying pro-democracy flyers in parachutes from an airplane over Minsk on 4 July 2012. Lukashenko also fired his air defence chief and the head of the border guards over the incident. Their replacements have been told not to hesitate to use force to stop future intrusions from abroad.[4]

Relations with Russia[edit]

Russia remains the largest and most important partner for Belarus both in the political and economic fields. After protracted disputes and setbacks, the two countries' customs duties were unified in March 2001 but the customs controls were soon restored. In terms of trade, almost half of Belarusian export goes to Russia. Due to the structure of Belarusian industry, Belarus relies heavily on Russia both for export markets and for the supply of raw materials and components. After initial negotiation with the Russian Central Bank on monetary union, the Russian ruble was set to be introduced in Belarus in 2004, but this was postponed first until 2005, then until 2006, and now seems to have been suspended indefinitely.

Relations with the United States[edit]

Belarus has had an ongoing discussion to relaunch IMF-backed reforms, concluding an arrangement for an IMF Staff-monitored program (SMP) in 2001. However, the authorities did not follow through with reforms as hoped, leaving an uncertain future for IMF-backed cooperation. Belarus authorities have said on several occasions that they find IMF intervention and recommendations in Belarus counter-productive to the economic development of those countries. The relationships with the United States have been further strained, after Congress of the United States unanimously passed the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004.

On 7 March 2008 the government of Belarus ejected US Ambassador Karen B. Stewart from the country, following a row over travel restrictions placed on President Lukashenko and sanctions against state-owned chemical company Belneftekhim. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced at the same time that it was recalling its own ambassador to the US. This was followed by the expulsion of ten other U.S. embassy staff from Minsk in late April. At the same time the government of Belarus ordered the U.S. Embassy in Minsk to cut its staff by half.[5][6][7][8] A White House spokesman described the expulsion as "deeply disappointing".

Relations with other countries[edit]

Due to strained relations with the United States and the European Union, as well as occasional high-level disputes with Russia over prices on core imported natural resources such as oil and gas, Belarus aims to develop better relations with countries in other regions like Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.[9]

Bilateral relations[edit]

Africa[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Angola 1995-04-24 Bilateral relations were established on 24 April 1995.[10]
  • Angola is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Russia.[10]
  • Belarus is accredited to Angola from its embassy in South Africa.[10]
 Ethiopia 1994-05 Diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in May 1994.[11]
 Kenya 1993-11-17 Bilateral relations were established on 17 November 1993
  • Belarus has an embassy in Nairobi.
  • Kenya is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Moscow, Russia.[14]
 Libya 1992 See Belarus–Libya relations.
  • Belarus operated an embassy in Tripoli between 2000 and 2014, but suspended operations due to escalation of the military conflict.[15]
  • Libya closed its embassy in Belarus in 2015.[16]
 Mozambique 2000-02-29 Bilateral relations were established between Belarus and Mozambique on 29 February 2000.[17]
  • Belarus is represented in Mozambique through its embassy in South Africa.[17]
  • In 2017 the interior ministries of the two countries signed an agreement to work together to fight terrorism.[18]
 Namibia 2000-12-21 The two countries established bilateral relations on 21 December 2009.[19]
  • Belarus is represented in Namibia through its embassy in South Africa.[19]
  • Namibia is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Moscow, Russia.[20]
 South Africa March 1993[21]
 Zimbabwe 1992-04-16 Bilateral relations were established on 16 April 1992.[23]
  • Belarus is represented in Zimbabwe through its embassy in South Africa.[23]

America[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Argentina
  • Argentina is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Moscow, Russia.
  • Belarus has an embassy in Buenos Aires.
 Brazil
  • Belarus has an embassy in Brasília.
  • Brazil has an embassy in Minsk.
 Canada 1992-04-15 Belarus and Canada established diplomatic relations on 15 April 1992.[24]
 Cuba 1992-04 Bilateral relations between Cuba and Belarus began in April 1992.[27]
  • Belarus opened an embassy in Havana, Cuba in November 1998, its first in Latin America and the Caribbean.[27][28]
  • Cuba upgraded it's representation in Havana, Belarus to an embassy in May 1997.[27][29]
 Dominica 2004

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 9 July 2004.[30]

 Dominican Republic
  • Belarus has an honorary consulate in Santo Domingo, operated though the embassy in Cuba.[31]
  • Dominican Republic has an honorary consulate in Minsk.[32]
 Ecuador

The governments of Belarus and Ecuador concluded an agreement about mutual visa-free travel. It was signed in Quito on June 20, 2014, ratified by Belarus law on December 29, 2014.[33]

  • Belarus established an embassy in Quito, Ecuador in 2014.[34][35]
  • Ecuador has an embassy in Minsk.[36]
 Guyana 2000

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 25 February 2000.[37]

 Mexico January 1992 See Belarus–Mexico relations

Belarus and Mexico established diplomatic relations in January 1992.[38]

  • Belarus is accredited to Mexico from its embassy in Havana, Cuba.[39]
  • Mexico is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Moscow, Russia and maintains an honorary consulate in Minsk.[40]
 Panama 1998-10-22

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 22 October 1998.[41]

  • Panama is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Moscow (Russia).[42]
 United States 1991 See Belarus–United States relations

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Belarus began in 1991 upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, of which Belarus had been a part. However, the relations have turned sour due to accusations by the United States that Belarus has been undemocratic. Belarus, in turn, has accused the United States of interfering in its internal affairs.

 Uruguay 1992
  • Belarus is accredited to Uruguay from its embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina and maintains an honorary consulate in Montevideo.
  • Uruguay is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Warsaw, Poland.
 Venezuela
  • Belarus has an embassy in Caracas.
  • Venezuela has an embassy in Minsk.

Asia[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 1992
 Azerbaijan 1992 See Azerbaijan–Belarus relations
 Bangladesh 1992-02-21 Bilateral relations were established on 21 February 1992.[48]
  • Belarus is primarily represented in Bangladesh through its embassy in India, but also has an honorary consulate in Dhaka.[48][49]
  • India has represented in Bangladesh by its ambassador to Russia since June 2010.[48]
 China 1992
  • Belarus has an embassy in Beijing.[50]
  • China has an embassy in Minsk.[51]
 Georgia 1992
 India 1992-04-17 Bilateral relations began on 17 April 1992.[55]
  • Belarus has had an embassy in New Delhi since June 1998.[55] It also has an honorary consul in Kolkata.[49]
  • Since 14 May 1992, India has an embassy in Minsk.[56]
 Iran 1993-03-18 See Belarus–Iran relations. Bilateral relations were established on 18 March 1993.[57]
  • Belarus has had an embassy in Tehran since 6 March 1998.[58][59]
  • Iran opened an embassy in Minsk in February 2001.[57]
  • The two countries have enjoyed good relations in recent years reflected in regular high level meetings and various agreements. In 2008, Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov described Iran as an important partner of his country in the region and the world.[60]
 Israel 1992

Belarus and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1992. During the 1990s, around 130,000 Belorussian citizens immigrated to Israel, forming one of the largest Belorussian expatriate communities in the world.[61] In August 2015, an agreement was signed on visa-free entry,[62] making Israel the first country outside the Former Soviet Union to have visa-free travel with Belarus.[citation needed]

  • Israel and Belarus have signed multiple agreements, including for visa-free travel.
  • Belarus has an embassy in Tel Aviv.[63]
  • Israel has an embassy in Minsk.[64] This was closed for 2 years from 2002 and a decision to close it again in 2016 was reversed after two months.[65]
 Japan 1992-01-26 The two countries established bilateral relations on 26 January 1992.[66]
  • Belarus has an embassy in Tokyo, opened in June 1995.[66]
  • Japan opened an embassy in Minsk in January 1993.[66][67]
 Kazakhstan 1992-09-16 Bilateral relations began on 16 September 1992.[68]
 Kyrgyzstan 1993-07-21 Belarus and Kyrgyzstan established diplomatic relations on 21 July 1993.[69] Relations were disrupted between August 2012 and October 2015 after Kyrgyzstan recalled their ambassador.[70]
 Maldives 1993-12-06

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 6 December 1993.[72]

   Nepal 1993-07-19 Belarus and Nepal established diplomatic relations on 19 July 1993.[73]
  • Belarus has an honorary consulate in Kathmandu, operated by the embassy in India.[49]
  • Nepal has an honorary consulate general in Minsk.[74]
  • Minsk and Kathmandu have established twin city relations.[73]
 North Korea 1992 See Foreign relations of North Korea.

Relations were established in 1992.[75]

 Pakistan See Pakistan–Belarus relations

Diplomatic relations were established on 3 February 1994.[80]

  • Belarus has an embassy in Islamabad.[80]
  • Pakistan maintains an embassy in Minsk.[81][82]
  • Pakistan and Belarus maintain very close relations with each other, Pakistan was one of the first countries to accept Belarus after its independence. President of Belarus and PM of Pak have visited each other's countries on state visits. Pakistan and Belarus have a huge trade partnership. Pakistan also provides Belarus with Military expertise.[citation needed]
 South Korea 1992-02-10[83] See Belarus–South Korea relations
 Sri Lanka 2000-11-20 Bilateral relations were established on 20 November 2000.[85]
  • Belarus has an honorary consulate in Colombo and is mainly represented through its embassy in India.[49][85]
  • Sri Lanka opened an honorary consulate in Belarus in 2004.[85]
 Syria 1992
  • Belarus has an embassy in Damascus.[86]
  • Syria has an embassy in Minsk.
 Tajikistan 1992
  • Belarus has an embassy in Dushanbe.
  • Tajikistan has an embassy in Minsk.
 Turkey 1992-05-25
 Turkmenistan 1992
  • Belarus has an embassy in Ashgabat.[87]
  • Turkmenistan has an embassy in Minsk.
 Uzbekistan 1992
 Vietnam December 27, 1991[89]
  • Since 1997, Belarus has an embassy in Hanoi.[90]
  • Since November 2003, Vietnam has an embassy in Minsk.[91]

Europe[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Austria 1992
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993-11-22 Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina established bilateral relations on 22 November 1993.[94]
  • Belarus has been represented in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the ambassador to Hungary since March 2014.[94]
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina is represented in Belarus by the embassy in Russia.[94]
 Bulgaria 1992-03-26
 Croatia 1992-09-25
  • Croatia is primarily represented in Belarus through its embassy in Moscow (Russia), although an honorary consulate opened in Minsk in 2011.[98]
  • Belarus is represented in Croatia through its embassy in Vienna (Austria), and an honorary consulate in Rijeka, Croatia.[99]
  • Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula on 24 June 2000 attended a summit of the Central European Initiative in Szeged, Hungary, and held bilateral talks with his counterpart from Belarus.[100]
  • At least three bilateral agreements have been signed between the two counties.[101]
    • 2001 Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments
    • 2004 Avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital
    • 2005 International Road Transport
  • Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration: list of bilateral treaties with Belarus
 Cyprus 1991
 Czech Republic 1993
 Denmark See Belarus–Denmark relations
  • Belarus is accredited to Denmark from its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Denmark is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Moscow, Russia.
 Estonia 1992-04-06 Bilateral relations began on 6 April 1992.[108]
  • Belarus has an embassy in Tallinn.[109]
  • Estonia opened its embassy in Minsk on 20 October 2009.[110]
 Finland 1992-02-26
  • Finland recognised the independence of Belarus on 30 December 1991.
  • Finland is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, which also operates a liaison office in Minsk.[111]
  • Belarus opened an embassy in Helsinki on 5 December 2011.[112]
 France 1992-01 Belarus and France established diplomatic relations in January 1992.[113]
 Germany 1923
 Greece See Foreign relations of Greece
  • Belarus is accredited to Greece from its embassy in Paris, France.
  • Greece is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Moscow, Russia.
 Hungary 1992-02-12 Bilateral relations were established between Belarus and Hungary on 12 February 1992.[123]
 Ireland 1992-03-27 Belarus and Ireland established bilateral relations on 27 March 1992.[125]
  • Belarus is represented in Ireland through its embassy in London (United Kingdom), and also has an honorary consulate in Rathdrum, County Wicklow.[126]
  • Ireland is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Lithuania.[127]
 Italy 1992-04-13 Bilateral relations were established on 13 April 1992.[128]
 Latvia 1992-04-07 The two countries signed a "Declaration on the Principles of Good-Neighborly Relations" on 16 December 1991 and established full bilateral relations on 7 April 1992.[132] Embassies were opened in both countries in 1993 and consulates general the following year.[132]
  • Belarus has an embassy in Riga and a general consulate in Daugavpils.[132]
  • Latvia has an embassy in Minsk and a consulate in Vitebsk.[132][133]
  • The countries share 161 km of common border.[134]
  • Belarusian and Latvian regions have signed about 60 twin city and partner agreements.[132]
 Lithuania 1992-12-30 Both countries recognised each other's independence in December 1991, and signed an agreement on diplomatic relations on 30 December 1992.[135]
 Malta 1993-02-16 Diplomatic relations were established on 16 February 1993.[140]
  • Belarus is represented in Malta through its embassy in Rome (Italy).[141]
  • Malta is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Warsaw (Poland).[142]
 Moldova 1992-11-19 Bilateral relations were established on 19 November 1992.[143]
 Netherlands 1994-03-24 See Belarus–Netherlands relations.

Bilateral relations began on 24 March 1992.[144]

 Poland 1992-03-02 See Poland–Belarus relations

Belarus and Poland established bilateral relations on 2 March 1992.[145]

 Romania 1992-02-14 Romania recognised the independence of Belarus on 20 December 1991 and bilateral relations were established on 14 February 1992.[150]
 Russia 1992-06-25 See Belarus–Russia relations

Belarus and Russia established diplomatic relations on 25 June 1992.[151]

 Serbia 1994-11-15 See Belarus–Serbia relations
  • Serbia recognised Belarus in December 1991 and both countries established diplomatic relations in November 1994 and at the ambassadorial level in 1996.
  • Belarus has an embassy in Belgrade.
  • Serbia has an embassy in Minsk.
 Slovakia 1993
 Slovenia 1992-07-23 Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on 23 July 1992.[159]
  • Belarus is represented in Slovenia through its embassy in Hungary.[159]
  • Slovenia is represented in Belarus through its embassy in Russia.[159]
 Spain 1992-02-13 See Belarus–Spain relations
 Sweden 1992
  Switzerland
 Ukraine See Belarus–Ukraine relations
 United Kingdom 1991

Oceania[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Australia January 9, 1992[169]
  • Australia is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Moscow, Russia.[170]
  • Belarus is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
 New Zealand
  • Belarus is accredited to New Zealand from its embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • New Zealand is accredited to Belarus from its embassy in Moscow, Russia.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Elena Korosteleva, "The Limits of the EU Governance: Belarus ' Response to the European Neighbourhood Policy", Contemporary Politics, Vol. 15(2), June 2009, pp. 229–45
  3. ^ Belarus quits EU's Eastern Partnership initiative, Eur Activ, 2011-10-30
  4. ^ Belarus-Sweden teddy bear row escalates, BBC News, 2012-08-08
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