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Opinions & Interviews

25 Nov 2019

Swedish MFA recommends using ‘Belarus’ instead of ‘White Russia’ in Swedish

Swedish MFA recommends using ‘Belarus’ instead of ‘White Russia’ in Swedish
Ann Linde. Photos courtesy of aftonbladet.se

MINSK, 25 November (BelTA) - The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends using the name "Belarus” instead of the former “White Russia” in the Swedish language, reads the article penned by Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, BelTA has learned.

“This is a recognition of the Belarusian civil society and the people who have long wanted to emphasize the national identity and sovereignty of their country,” said the Swedish minister, who is in Minsk on an official visit on 25 November together with Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto.

As of today, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs will use the name "Belarus” instead of the name "White Russia" in its official contacts. This means that the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends using the name "Belarus" in Swedish from now on.

“I will take this news with me as I visit Minsk on an official visit today. I am traveling together with Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, who represents the country presiding in the EU Council, and I am going to meet with the leadership of Belarus, representatives of the civil society, the opposition and young people,” the article said.

The Swedish minister for foreign affairs noted that the visit provides an opportunity to engage in a dialogue on the issues that are important for Sweden and the EU. “We strongly believe that it is always better to choose contacts over isolation, even with countries where the form of government and policy are based on the values that we do not fully share," the minister said.

Ann Linde spoke in favor of expanding cooperation in areas of common interest: “The length of the EU's border with Belarus is 900km. The shortest distance between Sweden and Belarus is 500km. Like all our neighbors, we face many common challenges where cooperation is the only way forward.”

The minister stated that Sweden provides support to the water treatment plants along the Belarusian rivers flowing into the Baltic Sea. “We, however, can do more on climate and environmental issues in our common region. Belarus is one of the leading countries in terms of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda). The country has a strong interest in reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports. As part of our support for reforms, we offer and encourage public participation in decision-making that improves the lives of the Belarusian people,” said Ann Linde.

She emphasized the need to continue cooperation in trade, economy and international exchanges.

“We support the European security order and the right of states to make independent choices in security policy,” the minister stressed. “Belarus has played a meaningful and constructive role as an organizer of the Minsk process and the work of the Trilateral Contact Group, which aims to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

According to Ann Linde, Sweden shares Belarus’ view on the importance of a properly functioning security architecture within the OSCE. “Here, Belarus has acted constructively, for example, by inviting to observe military exercises exceeding the scope of the Vienna Document. We welcome Belarus’ involvement and ambitions to contribute to the stability of security policy in our region,” the minister said.

“We are convinced that dialogue and cooperation are the most efficient way to improve the world. Expansion of contacts with the country means more opportunities for influence, even in matters where we have different viewpoints. Isolation will not lead to improvements in democracy, human rights and sustainable development. Changing the name to ‘Belarus’ and my visit to Minsk are a clear signal that Sweden wants to have a closer dialogue with Belarus: with the government, the opposition and the Belarusian people to strengthen our common security and protect basic human rights and freedoms,” Ann Linde said.

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