Humanitarian aid in jeopardy
German-Belarusian contact bureau NiKoBel called upon 50 civic initiatives, operating in the state of Lower Saxony, to suspend shipments of humanitarian aid to Belarus, Belarus Today reports. NiKoBel President, Günter Wers, made a special statement to journalists on the matter in the office of the Belarussian charitable foundation Children of Chernobyl.
According to Wers, many people in Germany think that humanitarian aid for Chernobyl victims does not get through to those in need. Sometimes, humanitarian cargoes from Germany simply disappear.
This trend has intensified after the State Department for Humanitarian Aid, headed by a presidential aide, was set up in Belarus. Obviously, after the Soros Foundation was expelled form Belarus, the image of Minsk officials has been marred, and this protest action by German civic initiatives is likely to re-enforce these negative attitudes towards the Belarusian leadership in the international community.
Belarus set to lure investment
The Belarusian government plans to take measures to improve the climate for investment in the country. The Presidium of the Council of Ministers has recently decided to reveal and annul regulations that run counter to the country's investment laws.
The Presidium recommended to speed up privatization, liberalize the procedure of foreign and joint companies' registration, as well as to set up a council to coordinate agencies' efforts aimed at improving the situation.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has been instructed to draw up an investment agreement which would allow those companies investing upwards of USD ten million in the economy "to dictate the rules of the game with to government."
Romania introduces visas for Belarusians
Romania will introduce visas for Belarusian citizens on 1 July, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters last Monday. From that date on, in order to enter Romania or pass through that country, Belarusian citizens will have to obtain a visa from the Romanian Embassy in Minsk or from any other diplomatic mission of Romania. Applicants will need to have an invitation, a tourist voucher, a resort reservation or the like.
Dutch farmers will move to Belarus?
The Netherlands may invest USD ten to 15 million in Belarus' agricultural sector, said Vladimir Sobolev, a representative of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry at a news conference. The Dutch government adopted a programme providing for a 25 per cent reduction in the number of agricultural workers over five to eight years, Sobolev said.
The Dutch do not need as much agricultural produce as they yield at present, and believe it is much better to use land for recreation rather than for agricultural production, he said. A group of Dutch companies has approached the Belarussian Embassy with the proposal to bring farmers with their families and equipment and technology to Belarus.
But the farmers want land to become their property, which runs counter to Belarusian legislation, Sobolev said. Dutch companies have already launched a pilot project in the Grodno region. If the project is a success, Dutch farmers will drop their claim for land ownership and start a large-scale project worth at least USD ten to 15 million, Sobolev said.
Germany is reportedly ready to carry out similar projects in Belarus. The Germans want the Belarusian government to lease them land for 99 years.
Victor Lukyanow, 23 June 2000