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Opinions & Interviews

19 Nov 2018

Opinion: Belarus is set to re-engage with Europe

Opinion: Belarus is set to re-engage with Europe

The outcome of the recent visit of Chairman of the Council of the Republic Mikhail Myasnikovich to France and the meeting with President of the Senate Gerard Larcher inspire optimism about the future of the Belarusian-European relations. The parties have shown willingness to listen to each other's positions, increase mutual trade, and strengthen humanitarian contacts. In an exclusive commentary to BelTA, the head of the upper house of Belarus Parliament Mikhail Myasnikovich disclosed some details of the Paris talks and talked about the ways the parliament is going to promote Belarus’ European vector .

Mikhail Myasnikovich is convinced that prospects are good in cooperation with Europe which Belarus will develop not to the detriment of relations with the traditional partners. During the meeting, the President of the Senate of France wanted to know how Belarus builds relationships with the Russian Federation amid intensifying contacts with the EU. The Chairman of the Council of the Republic underlined that Russia is a strategic partner of Belarus. “Cooperation with Russia will not be weakened. Work on the European policy will not hurt cooperation with Russia,” said Mikhail Myasnikovich.

During the meeting the parties discussed the prospects of cooperation between Belarus and the European parliamentary organizations, especially OSCE PA and PACE. The Council of the Republic intends to work more actively with these organizations, use more efficiently the bilateral contacts with European counterparts. Mikhail Myasnikovich told Gerard Larcher about the situation in Belarus, answered his questions about foreign and domestic policies, including in the area of ensuring democratic freedoms. Gerard Larcher intends to use the information he obtained during the meeting with his Belarusian colleague in international venues to help Belarus promote its interests.

The heads of the upper houses of the parliaments noted that the lack of objective information prevents normal constructive dialogue. For example, Mikhail Myasnikovich noted that the special rapporteurs on the situation in Belarus do not always provide objective and complete information. The Belarusian and French senators agreed to correct the situation using the parliamentary instruments. In this regard, setting up friendship groups in the Council of the Republic and the Senate of France in 2018 is acquiring particular importance. This happened for the first time since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the MPs have high hopes for the work of the groups.

“The French Senate seeks constructive and effective cooperation. Belarusian MPs want to maintain the momentum and give an additional impetus to the agreements that were reached earlier. Such contacts should be more frequent. We should expand cooperation and thus pursue a full-fledged European policy,” Mikhail Myasnikovich said. Belarus is interested in hosting more European delegations at the highest executive level and also specialists and experts. After talking to colleagues, they will be able to establish reliable professional contacts.

Among the priorities of cooperation, the parliaments of Belarus and France outlined economic cooperation in manufacturing, including food industry and agriculture, attracting French investment in the development of economic projects in Belarus through the establishment of joint ventures and French company offices. During the meeting Mikhail Myasnikovich and Gerard Larcher discussed the issues related to mechanical engineering. “Particular attention was paid to the production of automotive components and the prospects of their sale not only in the Belarusian market but also to French concerns,” Mikhail Myasnikovich said. The parties are also interested in cooperation in furniture manufacturing, microelectronics and other areas.

In general, Mikhail Myasnikovich described his visit to France as successful, justifying expectations. On the sidelines of the ceremony celebrating the centenary of the Armistice of 1918 and also during other official events he discussed tactical issues, namely ways to consolidate the agreements, to enhance cooperation. “Partners demonstrate a correct and respectful attitude towards Belarus. This is the main achievement of the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko whose active position does not go unnoticed in political circles,” Mikhail Myasnikovich noted.

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