Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said that Belarus will close its embassies “in at least several countries of the world”. He made this statement after a meeting with Alexander Lukashenko on optimizing the network of Belarusian foreign missions. It is noted that Belarus is planning to expand its diplomatic presence in other countries, the STV and ONT TV channels report.
“I don’t want to say that we will close ten embassies in one region and immediately open ten in another region, we won’t do that. We will move forward. At least in several countries of the world, we will close our embassies: where we see that for a long period of time their work does not bring the necessary external economic return,” the minister said.
He said that the ministry will look at optimizing the activities of certain foreign missions in specific countries.
“Well, for example, if we take Vietnam, India, then, for example, the financial-economic capitals of these countries are at a distance of at least 1.5 thousand kilometres from the real capitals – these are Ho Chi Minh City, Mumbai. And there are large financial centres, large industrial centres. And, in our opinion, the direct diplomatic presence of the Belarusian side is advisable there, which will allow having daily contact to communicate with certain representatives, and this will be beneficial for Belarus.”
Also, Vladimir Makei spoke about the relationship with Poland, as well as about the criminal cases initiated after the events related to the “Day of the Cursed Soldiers” in Brest.
“These are events that run counter to our legislation. Maybe they are considered heroes, but here they are considered criminals and should be punished accordingly. Therefore, the criminal cases brought against individual citizens of Belarus have specific reasons, and there is concrete evidence of their offences and crimes,” he explained.
He stressed that the Belarusian side is interested in normal, constructive relations with Poland and other neighbouring countries.
“But this does not mean that we will turn a blind eye to those destructive actions that one or another side is taking against Belarus. On that score, no doubt, there will always be an adequate answer. Relations should develop on a constructive, equal basis and with respect for the domestic legislation of our country and international obligations,” he stressed.
“Today we also discussed the issue, I can say frankly, of the possible return of ambassadors to our countries. But it is clear that there must be serious grounds for this, allowing all parties to hope that this will lead to a calmer development of the situation and its transfer to a normal discussion channel.”
During today’s meeting, Alexander Lukashenko said that there is no need to have our embassies and a full complement of diplomats in some countries. He spoke about the situation with Poland, noting that “constructive approaches in Warsaw are perceived as weakness.” According to him, “the last straw for the Belarusians side was “the blatant attempts to glorify the thugs and war criminals” in Brest and Grodno. Lukashenko also ordered “to deal with all dubious associations and institutions” and to re-register them.
Aggravation of relations
On 1 March, Poland celebrates the Cursed Soldiers National Remembrance Day, established in 2011. Members of the anti-Soviet underground groups who fought for the country’s independence in the second half of the 1940s. Among them were the soldiers of the detachment of Romuald Rajs, who burned five villages in Eastern Poland, where Orthodox Belarusians lived. Then 79 people died.
On 9 March, Polish Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Marcin Wojciechowski was summoned to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to express a protest over the participation of the consul in Brest Jerzy Timofejuk in an event dedicated to the “day of the cursed soldiers”. The Foreign Ministry said that by participating in this event, the Polish representative violated the norms of international law. The consul was suggested to leave the territory of Belarus.
In response, Poland recognized a diplomat from the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw as persona non grata. On 11 March, Marcin Wojciechowski was summoned to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry again. The Polish side was handed a note with a proposal to the head and consul of the Consulate General of Poland in Grodno to leave the territory of Belarus within 48 hours. On 12 March, the Polish Foreign Ministry expelled two Belarusian consuls in Bialystok and in Warsaw. On March 10, the Brest prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case on the glorification of war criminals.
On 25 March, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus reported that it had opened a case against the chairman of the unofficial Union of Poles Andżelika Borys, and other persons under Part 3 of Art. 130 of the Criminal Code (Intentional actions aimed at inciting national and religious enmity and discord on the basis of national, religious, linguistic and other social affiliation, as well as the rehabilitation of Nazism, committed by a group of persons). The defendants face 5 to 12 years in prison.
the prosecutor’s office said in a statement that “citizens, positioning themselves as members of the above union,” since 2018 have held in Grodno and the Grodno region “a number of illegal mass events to honour the participants of anti-Soviet gangs who acted during and after the Great Patriotic War, who committed robberies, murders of civilians Belarus, destruction of property ”. “Their actions pursued the goal of rehabilitating Nazism, justifying the genocide of the Belarusian people”.
In total, five representatives of the Union of Poles were detained under this article: Andżelika Borys, Andrzej Poczobut, Iren Biernackaya, Mariya Tiszkowskaya and Anna Paniszewa. Belarusian human rights activists recognized them as political prisoners.
In connection with the current situation, on 25 March, President of Poland Andrzej Duda began negotiations under the auspices of the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe. In addition, he sent a letter to US President Joe Biden (the United States presided over the UN Security Council in March).