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Zim, Belarus strengthen relations

Foreign Affairs minister Frederick Shava

ZIMBABWE and Belarus yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to fostering closer ties between the two countries currently facing global isolation.

“Zimbabwe and Belarus [relations] have continued to grow at an exponential rate as illustrated by the frequent exchange of high-level visits and continuous engagements by our two presidents at various fora,” Foreign Affairs minister Frederick Shava said yesterday during the first session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation between Zimbabwe and Belarus.

“We in Zimbabwe consider these high level visits to be a testament to the excellent relations between the two countries, as well as a reflection of our mutual interest to further deepen and expand these relations.”

Last year, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited the country for talks with his counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa in what analysts said was an attempt by the two leaders to “diversify” their diplomatic ties.

Lukashenko’s trip followed a 2019 visit by Mnangagwa to Minsk, after which Belarus opened an embassy in Harare.

Since then, some deals have been signed.

In 2022, a decision by the government to acquire firetenders from Belarus on behalf of local authorities at inflated prices, however, torched a storm.

Mnangagwa has also turned to Belarus for farm machinery.

Shava said the year 2023 was a significant year in the two countries’ relationship after a number of memoranda of understanding (MoU) and commercial contracts were signed.

“Among them was the Agreement on the Establishment of the Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation, which gave impetus to this inaugural session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Co-operation between our sisterly countries,” Shava said.

“It is my expectation that both sides will work towards the finalisation and signature of these draft agreements and MoUs in the not too distant future.”

“It is my belief that the ministries overseeing outstanding draft agreements and MoUs on both sides have taken advantage of this session to establish and address what has been stalling progress in their respective negotiations,” he said.

Beralus Foreign Affairs minister Sergie Aleinik said the relations between Minsk and Harare were beginning to bear fruit.

“The foundation of our co-operation is trusting relations between our two leaders and mutually beneficial partnership based on honest and time-tested relations,” Aleinik said.

“My brother Frederick made a very comprehensive overview of the history of our bilateral relations and it’s true that in recent years we have witnessed a significant increase of the contacts between Belarus and Zimbabwe at different levels, including the highest one.”

The two countries are under some degree of diplomatic isolation, with the two nations’ leaders and government officials under Western sanctions for mainly human rights abuses.

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