US Congress hosts conference marking BNR anniversary

 

The US Congress hosted a conference on March 25 on the occasion of the 96th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR).

The conference, officially introduced as a policy briefing on the theme of “Belarus: Catalyzing Positive Change in the Geographic Center of Europe,” had been organized by the Belarusan-American Association (BAZA) in Washington under the patronage of the US Helsinki Commission together with Freedom House and the Joint Baltic-American National Committee, according to the BAZA press office.

The conference featured Kenneth Yalowitz, who served as the US ambassador to Belarus between 1994 and 1997, and leaders of Freedom House and Amnesty International USA, among other figures.

Their reports focused on the situation in Belarus after two decades of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s presidency, the country’s human rights record, economic performance, the US and US policies regarding Minsk, and the possibility of Belarus becoming “the next Crimea,” the press office said.

Speaking during the conference, Alesya Kipel, deputy chairperson of the Washington office of the Belarusan-American Association, noted that Belarus had not had a democratic presidential election since 1994 and described the geopolitical situation in Russia and Ukraine, the two largest countries that border on Belarus, as “potentially much more volatile” than 20 years before. “The United States cannot afford to be complacent about Belarus, given the unrest in Ukraine and the behavior and rhetoric emanating from Moscow,” Ms. Kipel warned.

It is sad and telling that that the BNR anniversary demonstration in Minsk is taking place on the outskirts of the city, tightly supervised by the police, while this policy briefing is being held at the Capitol Hill in Washington, said Alesya Syomukha (Alesia Siomucha), secretary of the government in exile of the Belarusian National Republic. She stressed that Belarus’ future should be based on national and democratic values. The most recent events in Ukraine and the reaction of official Minsk have only confirmed that the corrupt, antinational, authoritarian regime will never be able to defend Belarusian sovereignty, she said. //BelaPAN