- US Secretary of State Pompeo announced support for Belarusian sovereignty.
- America and Belarus could soon exchange ambassadors.
- Pompeo stated that the US is 100% ready to provide Belarus with oil.
U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first to visit Belarus in more than a quarter of a century. Pompeo met with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, who welcomed him, and Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, as well as Belarussian human rights defenders.
Belarus to Choose Between Washington and Moscow
Despite the fact that the visit by Secretary of State Pompeo to Minsk lasted only a few hours, the parties managed to exchange serious political statements. At a meeting with President Lukashenko, Pompeo said that Washington is ready to support the independence of Belarus. “The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country. Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100% of the oil you need at competitive prices. We’re the biggest energy producer in the world and all you have to do is call us.”
Pompeo also announced that the two nations would soon be exchanging ambassadors, a first since 2008. In recent months, Belarus has been visited by a number of US officials. In August 2019, then-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton visited Minsk. In September 2019, the Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale, came to Belarus.
Andrei Kazakevich, director of the Political Sphere Institute, believes that the visit by the U.S. Secretary of State indicates some normalization in relations between Belarus and the United States.
Still Too Early to Talk About Lifting U.S. Sanctions Against Belarus
The main discrepancy between Belarus and the USA lies in the views on democracy and human rights. After Belarus’ 2006 presidential election, which the West recognized as undemocratic, the United States imposed sanctions on several Belarusian enterprises, Alexander Lukashenko personally, and a number of officials. In 2015, the sanctions were suspended, as the release of several political prisoners took place.
At the final press conference, Pompeo said that the US sees the human rights situation in Belarus is improving. “The US prioritizes respect for human rights, a strong civil society and freedom of the press in every corner of the world. Further progress in those areas is the only path towards lifting sanctions,” Mr. Pompeo said.
On the eve of the Secretary of State’s visit to Minsk, the leaders of several opposition parties in Belarus submitted an appeal to Pompeo to the US embassy, describing “current issues of Belarus’s domestic and foreign policy, as well as issues that would be important to address at a meeting with representatives of the Belarusian regime.” The Secretary of State’s initial meeting with the opposition was planned, but in the end, Pompeo saw only Belarusian human rights activists.