European Games become diplomatic fiasco for Belarus

2019 European Games – Opening Ceremony – Dinamo Stadium, Minsk, Belarus – June 21, 2019. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in the stands during the opening ceremony, Image: 450465747, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: , Model Release: no, Credit line: Forum, Reuters

The Belarusian authorities and diplomats failed to make an attempt to make a diplomatic event out of the European games, experts say.

The European Games mentioned so often by the state TV channels are over. The Minister of Finance spoke about the cost of the competition — about $265 million. Although three years ago Alyaksandr Lukashenka promised that $50 million would be enough for all the European games. It’s still unknown what kind of profit the sporting event has brought.

The competition gave the head of state an opportunity to show off in front of foreign and domestic TV cameras, hug with athletes, give a chocolate bar to a baby and invite the heads of state to the competition.

Unfortunately, the presidents of Ukraine and Azerbaijan did not make it, the Serbian president did not come to the opening ceremony in protest against Kosova’s participation, and the Russian leader first sent Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to press the issue of integration.

Vladimir Putin came to the closing ceremony but did not meet with Lukashenka, he first visited the boxing competition and met with the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.

“From this point of view, it is a complete diplomatic fiasco and a good lesson for the future. The Belarusian authorities and diplomats failed to do anything about the diplomatic event,” added Vitali Tsyhankou, a columnist for Radio Liberty.

In addition to inviting Putin, Lukashenka invited the presidents of Tajikistan and Armenia to the closing ceremony.

Yaraslau Stseshyk, Belsat