The Belarusian presidential election will take place on Sunday (11 October). After the election of 2010 was overshadowed by violence, Germany and other international partner countries have been following the developments very closely. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is coordinating the international election observation. After the presidential election, the EU will decide on its future course towards Belarus. Germany would welcome closer political, economic and cultural relations with this eastern neighbouring country of the EU, provided that the right conditions are in place.
Andreas Peschke, Director for Eastern Europe, held political talks in Minsk on 6 and 7 October. His schedule included in-depth consultations with Alena Kupchyna, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and talks with representatives of the ODIHR’s election observation mission, political experts and representatives of non-governmental organisations. Peschke praised the release of political prisoners a few weeks ago and underlined Germany’s interest in closer relations with Belarus. However, he also emphasised that the events of 2010 must not be allowed to happen again.
German involvement in Belarus
Eighty German companies are currently based in Belarus. The Goethe-Institut and the German Academic Exchange Service also have offices in Minsk. Over 100,000 pupils are learning German at schools in Belarus. The country has 18,000 students of German studies, while 1800 Belarusian students are studying in Germany. German organisations have also been helping people affected by the disaster in the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Chernobyl on the border to Belarus for a long time. For many years, tens of thousands of Belarusian children have been invited to Germany for a holiday.
Peter Dettmar, the new German Ambassador, presented his letter of credence signed by the Federal President to the President of Belarus last Monday (5 October). The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus, Andrea Wiktorin, is also a German diplomat.
Remembering the victims of National Socialist crimes in Belarus
After his talks, the Director for Eastern Europe visited Maly Trostenets Memorial just outside Minsk, where over 200,000 people, mainly German, Austrian and Belarusian Jews, were murdered by the National Socialists during the Second World War. The memorial will be expanded with German support. There is also a memorial in Minsk commemorating the Jewish victims of National Socialist crimes.