SENATE- RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR NOMINATION HRG
Diplomat Julie Fisher spoke about her vision of the development of relations between Washington and Minsk
On Wednesday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on the appointment to positions in a number of structures in the UN, as well as to the main diplomatic posts in Kiev and Minsk. According to the official procedure, nominations must first be approved by the committee, then followed by a general vote in the Senate..
In presenting the candidacy for the post of Ambassador to Belarus, Julie Fisher, the head of the committee, Republican Jim Risch said that this nomination will mark «an important stage in bilateral relations between Belarus and the United States». If approved, Fischer will become the first American ambassador to the country in 12 years..
Senior Committee member Democratic Senator Bob Menendez also noted that Fischer’s appointment coincided with a critical moment for Belarus., «when the people of the country came out en masse with the demand for democracy and respect for human rights».
Washington recalled the last ambassador to Belarus in 2008 – since then, bilateral relations have been in stagnation..
In her opening remarks, Julie Fisher noted that following the Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass, the government in Minsk has shown an interest in developing diplomatic and trade relations with Washington. Contacts reached a new level after the visit of ex-Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell to Minsk in 2018, and the culmination was the visit of the country by Secretary of State Mike Pompeov this February..
If approved in office, Fischer plans to focus on building bilateral relations between countries..
In her opening remarks, the diplomat noted a number of positive trends that have emerged in Belarus, in particular, the rise of entrepreneurship in the field of information technology. She also gave an example of successful cooperation between the countries: the recent delivery of 600,000 barrels of American oil to Belarus reduced the country’s dependence on Russian energy resources, and at the same time provided jobs in the United States..
«Belarus is actively interested in attracting American investments. I support the creation in Minsk of the American Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council in Washington with a focus on Belarus. Such organizations will facilitate trade with the United States, as well as investments.», – said Fisher in her opening remarks.
At the same time, the candidate for the post of ambassador noted that the upcoming presidential elections, which will be held in the country this Sunday, play an important role in the development of relations. Fischer regrets the absence of independent observers from the OSCE and the Council of Europe in the elections.
«It is very important not to take steps back on the path to the modest progress that we have seen in recent years. The first element of relationship development — this is evidence that the country is not sliding backwards in the process of holding the upcoming elections», – Fischer said in response to questions from senators.
Julie Fisher is a career diplomat. She previously worked at the US embassies in Kiev, Moscow, Tbilisi, as well as the US mission to NATO. Most recent position – Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs