In 2020, the 18th edition of the Minsk Forum scheduled for 2-3 December will be taking place online.
In the course of the event, its participants are expected to discuss the issues of the current political crisis in Belarus as well as the ways of achieving reconciliation and further developing relations with neighbouring countries.
The conference is to kick off at 11 am on December, 2. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya will made speeches at the opening ceremony; US Professor of History Timothy Snyder will deliver a keynote address.
Among other guasts sitting and apeaking on its five panels there will be Dirk Schuebel, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus, Marcin Przydacz, State Secretary at Poland’s Foreign Ministry, Pavel Latushka, a member of the board of the opposition Coordination Council, Klara Geywitz, Deputy Federal Chair of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), activist Veranika Tsapkala, the wife of the might-have been presidential candidate Valery Tsapkala, Franak Vyachorka, advisor to Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, German MPs Michael Georg Link, Mark Hauptmann, and others.
“At this fateful point in the history of Belarus, the Minsk Forum calls on [the authorities] to back off from violence and release political prisoners. We do believe that the country needs an open dialogue about its political future. We hope that the forum contributes to establishing such a dialogue,” said Markus Meckel, Chair of the conference’s organiser, the German-Belarusian Society.
The Minsk Forum was founded in November 1997, the year when the EU, the Council of Europe and the OSCE largely froze their official contacts with Belarus. In doing so, European organisations responded to the controversial constitutional referendum initiated by president Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 1996, which abolished the separation of powers in Belarus to a great extent. Against this background, the international conference in Minsk helped to maintain political and civil society contacts between Belarus and Germany and the EU, even in a difficult political situation. It also provided a platform for exchange between different actors in Belarus – non-governmental organisations, government and opposition. With the foundation of the German-Belarusian Society(Deutsch-Belarussische Gesellschaft, dbg) in 1999, the Minsk Forum became the central project of the dbg.