x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

New Belarus ambassador keen to bolster UAE relations

Besides military and security links, both countries hope to work together and share expertise in counterterrorism, human trafficking, anti narcotics and VIP protection.

ABU DHABI // The new Belarusian ambassador to the UAE hopes to ease visa restrictions between the countries and strengthen political, business and security relations.

Roman Golovchenko, who arrived in the UAE on May 21, also said he wants to encourage dialogue between the Belarusian and Emirati business communities, and said positive steps had already been taken.

The ambassador said that the two countries held their first joint committee meeting in April and agreed to grant diplomats visa-free entry. He said he hoped this could be extended to other types of visitors.

He said that a simplified visa regime would help tourism and trade for both countries and that Belarus would be willing to grant Emiratis visas on arrival if the UAE did the same for Belarusians.

Mr Golovchenko said UAE businessmen were often put off his country because they did not understand Eastern European culture. "It is no secret that UAE public and private businesses follow the Western European, American and Asian styles of business," he said. "You can find in the day-to-day contacts with UAE businessmen that they feel insecure towards Eastern European and former USSR countries.

"There is no big difference between Western and Eastern European business styles but the customs and culture differs."

He blamed a "lack of information and stereotypes" and emphasised that Belarus enjoyed political stability, low crime, high levels of education and expertise, and competitive salaries.

The ambassador said he also hoped to strengthen military and security links, which he said had been strong in the past few years. "Every year we have six to seven group visits to Belarus for security cooperation," he said.

The two countries work together and share expertise in counterterrorism, human trafficking, anti narcotics and VIP protection.

The ambassador said his country put "no limits" on its sharing of expertise with the UAE.

A military-industrial cooperation agreement was signed in 2007. Since then, said the ambassador, Belarus had provided the UAE with more than 100 military vehicles and gun-control systems.

Sergei Gurulev, the chairman of the Belarus state military and industrial committee, said that in April the two countries agreed to further develop military and technical cooperation.

"Our country's highest-rank officials pay much attention to the cooperation with UAE, and the defence industry is an essential part of it," said Mr Gurulev.

Belarus also hopes to learn from the UAE in other areas, such as traffic and road management and cyber security.

"We want to learn from their experience, our relationship is not only having the UAE learn from our expertise and technology in various fields but we also want to learn from their experience," he said.

Mr Golovchenko graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of Russia in 1996 and the Academy of Public Administration in 2003.

The ambassador speaks Arabic, English and Polish and occupied various positions between 1996 and 2008 in the state secretariat of the security council of Belarus focusing on international security and foreign policy.