From 12 to 14 April a delegation of 8 parliamentarians of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference visited Minsk to discuss the issue of possible relations between the BSPC and the Parliament of Belarus.
Background of the visit was that the Belarusian Parliament approached the BSPC to launch a process of contacts with the BSPC through a letter from the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus in April 2015. In this letter the request for the interest of developing cooperation with the BSPC in the spirit of trust and mutual respect was announced. Thus, the intention of the delegation was to travel to Minsk with open minds, to ask questions and to scrutinize.
Members of the BSPC delegation were: Prof. Dr. Jānis Vucāns (Latvia, President of the BSPC), Ms Carola Veit (Hamburg, Vice-President of the BSPC, Germany), Ms Maria Tolppanen (Finland), Mr Franz Thönnes (Germany), Ms Giedre Purvaneckienė (Lithuania), Ms Dorota Arciszewska-Mielewczyk (Poland), Ms Valentina Pivnenko (Russia) and Mr Hans Wallmark (Sweden), the BSPC Secretariat and international advisers of the respective parliaments.
The delegation met with representatives of the opposition as well as of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly and the government.
Discussions were held with the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, Mr Viktor Guminsky, the Chairman of the Standing Commission on International Affairs , Mr Vitaly Busko, the Chairman of the Standing Commission on Human Rights and Mass Media, Mr Andrei Naumovich, Ms Alla Naumchik, the Head of delegation of the National Assembly to maintain contacts with the BSPC and Deputy Chairperson of the Standing Commission on Ecology Issues, Environment and Chernobyl Catastrophe, the chairpersons and members of several other Standing Committees -, the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, Mr Evgeny Shestakov and other high ranking representatives of Ministries of Energy, of Education, of Public Health, of Sports and Tourism as well as of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and of Scientific Institutes.
Each delegation member also used the possibility to talk with the Ambassadors and other representatives of the respective embassies about their experiences in Belarus.
The points of view of the opposition sides were discussed with Mr Nikolai Statkevich, one of the candidates of the Belarus presidential election 2010, and with Mr Andrei Dmitriev, who managed the campaign of Ms Tatiana Korotkevich, the opposition candidate in the 2015 presidential election.
With regard to 30 years Chernobyl disaster remembrance in April 2016 the delegation visited also the National research Centre for Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology.
The aim was to gain a comprehensive overview of Belarusian positions and opinions in general and specified to current themes of the BSPC.
All for the BSPC relevant and sensitive topics were discussed frankly and intensively.
At the next BSPC-Standing Committee meeting, which will take place in May, the information and impressions of this visit will be evaluated to discuss the possibilities of further cooperation with the Belarusian side.