WWII Memory And Business Above Politics. Highlights Of Sebastian Kurz’s Visit To Belarus

The visit of the Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to Minsk was a significant step towards the normalization of relations between Minsk and the West, Belarus In Focus writes.

This is a sign of Belarus’ gradual withdrawal from international isolation.

The visit has proved the success of Minsk’s strategy at developing long-term bilateral relations with EU states which are ready to commit to pragmatic and non-politicized cooperation. Over time, successful trade and economic cooperation lead to political normalization.

With a total investment volume of €2 billion, Austria is one of the largest investors in Belarus. Around 128 Austrian companies, such as Raiffeisen International and Telekom Austria, are represented in the country, according to Sebastian Kurz.

Between the EU and Russia

The press-release of the Austrian side mentioned the “lack of freedom of speech”, other human rights and reforms as the topics that had been discussed by Sebastian Kurz and Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.

“Minsk is well on the way to becoming closer to the European Union without giving up its good relations with Russia, and this successful concept can also serve as a model for other states in the region”, Kurz is quoted by his press service.

The Austrian official believes Belarus should not be required to chose between Russia and Europe, but rather should be offered the “and, and” position. Deeper cooperation within the Eastern Partnership is of great importance in this respect.

Besides economic cooperation, the sides looked into human rights.

“I also discussed with president Lukashenko the topics that we have different opinions on, the rule of law and human rights”, the Austrian Chancellor wrote on Twitter. In this issue, the sides rely on Belarus-EU human rights dialogue.

Sebastian Kurz visited Belarus on 28-29 March. He took part in the opening of the monument and memorial evening to 10,000 Austrian Holocaust victims at the Trostenets memorial complex; held talks with Alexander Lukashenko and Prime Minister Sergei Rumas.

Sebastian Kurs, Prime Minister Sergei Rumas and Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei during the ceremony in the memory of WWII victims in Minsk

Kurz mentioned a possible return visit of Lukashenko within six months and confirmed the intention to build “good long-term relations” with Belarus.

The two heads of states exchanged gifts – Belarus president got skis of the Austrian brand Ünique Skis, Sebastian Kurz received an icon of saint Sofia Slutskaya and chocolate of the brand President.

Photo: press-service of Belarusian president, TUT.BY.