Delegates to expatriates` congress discussed the state of Belarusan nation under globalization processes and called upon Belarusan authorities to release political prisoners.
Some 300 delegates gathered in Minsk for the Sixth Congress of Belarusans of the World that opened on Tuesday, July 23, BelaPAN reports.
The organizers said in a statement ahead of the event that interaction between different cultures was shaping a new world and the importance of expatriate communities was becoming increasingly significant. They warned that many Belarusan expatriates were losing their national identity and interest in their ethnic culture.
The congress was attended by Culture Minister Barys Sviatlou, foreign diplomats and representatives of religious organizations. A member of the congress` presidium announced that imprisoned opposition politician Mikalai Statkevich was greeting the delegates.
Complains about visa denials for ethnic Belarusians resident in Poland were voiced by a delegate to the Sixth Congress of Belarusians of the World complained on Wednesday, July 24. Helena Glogowska, a citizen of Poland, said that she was denied a Belarusian visa in October last year and could not attend a scholarly conference and visit her aunt`s grave.
Ms. Glogowska said that expatriates were concerned about the duplicity of the Belarusian government`s policy. While the government`s representatives insisted at the congress that Belarusian ethnic communities were very important to the country, Belarusian diplomatic missions in Poland seemed indifferent to delegates` problems, she said.
Ms. Glogowska, a historian who chairs a Belarusian cultural society in Gdansk, planned to take part in an international conference on the theme of “People of Ancient Hrodna,” which was organized by the Belarusian School Society, but was denied a visa. No reasons for the visa denial were given by the Belarusian consulate in Bialystok.
Aliaksandr Sapieha, a resident of Switzerland, suggested that Belarusian expatriates should hold their congresses abroad, "so that all Belarusians could take part."
Let us recall that organized by the "Batskaushchyna" (Fatherland) World Association of Belarusans and hosted by the Johannes Rau International Center for Education and Exchange (IBB Minsk), the two-day event is attended by expatriates living in 20 countries.