Government urged to launch ethnic Belarusian's certificate
An appeal urging the Belarusian government to issue special certificates to ethnic Belarusians residing abroad was adopted at the Seventh Congress of Belarusians of the World that took place in Minsk on July 15 and 16.
An ethnic Belarusian's certificate should allow its holders to enter Belarus without a visa, said the appeal.
It estimated the number of ethnic Belarusians living abroad at more than 3.5 million and said that some 200 Belarusian organizations operated in 26 countries.
The appeal described Belarusian ethnic minorities abroad as "soft power" that may be used by Minsk to bolster its image abroad.
"Unfortunately, this potential is virtually not used for our country's development today," it said. "The country ranks nearly last in the region in terms of the organization of cooperation with its ethnic communities abroad." It added that the situation hurt Belarus' national interests.
The delegates to the Congress called on the Belarusian government to draw up a strategy of cooperation with ethnic Belarusians residing abroad and a plan to encourage highly skilled ethnic Belarusians to return to the country.
The appeal suggested that the Council of Ministers and the foreign ministry should have special departments to strengthen ties with ethnic Belarusian communities abroad, while the international affairs committee in the House of Representatives should set up a special subcommittee for the purpose.
It also called for the establishment of a special "cultural and information" agency for supporting ethnic Belarusian communities abroad and urged the government to create a database of ethnic Belarusians living abroad and launch a special website for them.