India-Belarus Bilateral Relations
India’s relations with Belarus have been traditionally warm and cordial. India was one of the first countries to recognize Belarus as independent country in 1991. Formal diplomatic relations were established and the Indian diplomatic mission in Minsk was opened in 1992 and Belarus opened its Mission in New Delhi in 1998. Belarus has an Honorary Consulate in Kolkata opened in December 2002.
India and Belarus enjoy good understanding and commonality of views on various matters and cooperate with each other in multilateral fora on issues of mutual interest. Belarus has been supportive of India’s candidature for a permanent seat at the UNSC. Belarus supported India’s candidature for the non-permanent seat of UNSC for the years 2011-12. Belarus supported India at the NSG Session in Seoul in June 2016. India supported Belarus for its membership in the NAM and also other international and multilateral fora like IPU. India’s supportive stand on various Resolutions in Geneva and New York targeting Belarus for violation of human rights and restrictions on freedom of expression has been appreciated by Belarus. Belarus recognizes India as an emerging global power and seeks to develop a “strategic relationship” with India.
India and Belarus have maintained high level contacts. Late PM Rajiv Gandhi visited Minsk in 1985 when Belarus was still a part of the Soviet Union. There have been several high level visits from both sides including visits of President Alexander Lukashenko to New Delhi in 1997 and again in 2007 and the Vice President of India to Minsk in 2005 apart from other ministerial level visits and parliamentary exchanges. Lok Sabha Speaker, Mrs. Meira Kumar visited Belarus in May 2013. The two sides also exchanged visits by the heads of Judiciary and Election Commission. EAM visited Minsk in Sept 2009; Raksha Rajya Mantri in Oct 2009 and in May 2011 and the Coal Minister in June 2011. MoS (Communications & IT) came to Belarus in Jan 2012 to inaugurate the Digital Learning Centre in Minsk and MoS (Commerce & Industry) in 2006, 2012 and 2015. Industry Minister of Belarus visited India in July 2013 for the IGC meeting in New Delhi and Mumbai in Feb 2016 to participate in the ‘Make in India’ conference. Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Vladimir Semashko accompanied by the Belarusian Minister of Industry visited India to participate in the 4th Global Ministerial Level Conference on Renewable Energy in New Delhi in Oct 2010. Belarusian Foreign Minister visited India in April 2015 for bilateral discussions. In May 2016, a Belarusian Parliamentary Delegation led by Mr. Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Council of the National Assembly of Belarus visited India. Recent high level interaction was a meeting between Hon’ble PM and Belarusian President in Tashkent on June 24, 2016 on the sidelines of the 15th Summit of SCO Heads of State.
In 2015, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon’ble President of India paid a successful visit to Minsk in June - the first ever Presidential visit from India to Belarus. A number of documents for cooperation in broadcasting, standardization, textiles, securities and a Roadmap for future cooperation were signed during the visit. Also signed were business agreements and MoUs for cooperation in the field of education. India’s decision to grant Market Economy Status to Belarus and a US$ 100 million Line of Credit were announced during the visit.
India and Belarus maintain comprehensive partnership. Both countries have established mechanisms for exchanging views on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues through Foreign Office Consultations, Inter-governmental India-Belarus Commission on Cooperation in Science and Technology (IGC), Commission on Military Technical Cooperation and Commission on S&T cooperation. The last Foreign Office Consultations were held in July 2013 in New Delhi. The 7th IGC meeting was held in Minsk in Sept 2015. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (I/C) for Commerce and Industry led the Indian delegation to the meeting. The 7th meeting of India-Belarus Intergovernmental Commission on Cooperation in Science and Technology was held in April 2016 in Hyderabad. The first meeting of India-Belarus Joint Working Group on Textile was conducted on 11th May 2016 in New Delhi.
Two countries have signed a number of Agreements/MoUs on various subjects, namely, trade and economic cooperation, cultural, educational, media and sports, S&T, foreign office consultations, IGC, Avoidance of Double Taxation, Promotion and Protection of Investments and defence and technical cooperation.
Bilateral trade between the two countries remains modest. Two-way bilateral trade in 2015 amounted to US$ 445 million. The trade balance remains in favour of Belarus primarily on account of imports of Potash. Indian PSU, BHEL, was awarded a contract worth US$ 55.5 million for the supply and installation of equipment and machinery for the Grodno Power Project. India extended a Line of Credit for the project. The project completed in 2013 and is running well. In 2011, BelAZ signed an MoU with an Indian company Enrika for establishing a joint venture for servicing the Belarusian dumper trucks in India. Belarus participated in the India International Trade Fair in November 2012 as ‘Partner Country’.
Department of Commerce sponsored Pharmexcil and Assocham delegations to Minsk in February and March 2016 respectively – Pharmexcil for a Buyer-Seller Meet with Belarusian pharmaceuticals companies and Assocham delegation for participation at Belarus Medica 2016 where India was invited as ‘guest of honour’.
Defence cooperation is an important aspect of India’s bilateral relations with Belarus. There is an India-Belarus Joint Commission on Military Technical Cooperation which last met (8th meeting) in May 2016 in New Delhi.
The Mission organised a function at the National Library in Minsk on 6 July 2016 to launch a book 'First Mandala' of 'Rigveda' translated from Sanskrit into Belarusian language by Belarusian writer and poet Igar Kulikov.
India has been assisting Belarus in its human resource development under GoI’s ITEC program. So far, over 270 Belarusian officials and others have benefitted from this program. For 2016-17, 30 ITEC training slots have been allotted to Belarus.
The Indian community in Belarus is minuscule with 10 families and over 200 students, mostly studying medicine in Belarusian medical universities.
Ambassador of India in Belarus; H. E. Mr. Pankaj Saxena
Ambassador of Belarus in India: H.E. Mr. Vitaly Prima