Lukashenka to visit EU member state in April?

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been invited to visit Latvia on April, 3.

“We propose the visit take place on April, 3. If, of course, it suits the Belarusian side, we will be very glad to see you,” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said at Thursday’s meeting with the Belarusian leader in Minsk.

Latvia is interested in developing good relations with Belarus which they want to see an ‘independent, stable and prosperous’ country, the top official said.

In turn, Lukashenka encouraged Latvia to expand cooperation with Belarus and stressed that the two countries had very strong economic ties in Soviet times.

“I am really happy to welcome you and your colleagues in Minsk. I really hope that Minsk is not a stranger city for you, just like the capital of friendly Latvia is not a stranger city for us. No matter where we are, no matter what we or other people say, we used to be part of a once big country in the past. We used to have close, even friendly relations. Our economic ties were very strong,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the Belarusian president.

In July 2019, Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics that he was set to see Riga ‘in the near future’.

In February 2016, in the wake of the latest presidential elections in Belarus, the EU decided to lift its sanctions against Alyaksandr Lukashenka and 169 Belarusian officials cancelling the visa ban and assets freeze. Since then, the Belarusian leader has been free to come to any European city. However, he does not seem to be in hurry.

In May 2016, he visited Italy and the Vatican where he met with Pope Francis.

In September 2018, the Belarusian leader was invited to Paris to take part in the events on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. However, Alyaksandr Lukashenka failed to show up at the celebrations; our country was represented by Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Council of the Republic of Belarus.

In March 2019, Polish president Andrzej Duda issued invitations to the ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War to leaders of EU, NATO and the EaP countries, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka. But the Belarusian leader is unlikely to accept it as Russia’s Vladimir Putin was not invited to the event.

In May, the European Union invited Lukashenka to dinner to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the EaP initiative, but it was decided that Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey would replace him. In 2017, the top Belarusian diplomat also visited the EaP summit, where the Belarusian president had been invited to.

In November 2019, Alyaksandr Lukashenka paid a two-day official visit to Austria, which became his first trip to the EU in three years.