US envoy Julie Fisher to start working from Vilnius as no Belarusian visa granted to her yet

Julie Fisher. Photo: Reuters

Julie Fisher, the US ambassador to Belarus, will reside and work in Vilnius for some time, Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reports with reference to Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomėnas.

Washington has already sent a request for the envoy’s being temporary accredited in Lithuania.

In mid April, Julie Fisher, who has become the first US ambassador to Minsk in the last 13 years, said in an interview that she was not able to arrive in the country due to… the lack of a Belarusian visa. According to the top official, she has been hoping to land in Minsk since the new year, and the United States is ‘waiting on the Belarusian side to take the appropriate actions’.

“For our part, the United States will not simply sit idly while we hope for a visa, but I will engage very directly. I’m going to leave this weekend, and I’m going to travel to Vilnius and to Warsaw, where I will engage directly with those allies you just mentioned who are so concerned, who share our concerns about developments in Belarus,” Julie Fisher told Kera News.

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Meanwhile, Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey states that the country is ready to receive the US Ambassador Julie Fischer any time. However, he noted that ‘the events of recent days’ prompted the Belarusian side to reconsider the state of mutual relations and suggested that the United State might have been linked to the reportedly abortive coup in some way. In its turn, the US denied any involvement in the alleged assassination attempt on Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

“We would like to know in what status the ambassador-designate intends to work in Belarus. If she is going to come here and make statements about the illegitimacy of our government, then what is the point of all this? I think in this case she will stay in the embassy and will do nothing and will not be able to work effectively, including on establishing direct contacts between the agencies of Belarus and the United States,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the minister.

For over a decade, the embassies of the two countries have been headed by сharges d’affaires. After the United States imposed sanctions on Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka accused the US embassy of carrying out subversive activities. In 2008, Minsk recalled the ambassador from Washington and limited the number of American diplomats in the Belarusian capital to five. Before that there were 32 of them. For years, the American Embassy in Minsk has been operating in a reduced mode, without an ambassador. First, a limit was set to five diplomats, but gradually it was expanded to ten. In January 2019, Belarus lifted a cap on the number of US diplomats allowed in the country. Later, it was announced that the countries will finally appoint ambassadors. President Donald Trump appointed Julie Fisher as US Ambassador to Belarus in April 2020. Previously, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State. On December 16, the United States Senate confirmed her candidacy as ambassador.

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