DUBAI – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has invited his Kenyan counterpart, William Ruto, to build a plan to develop bilateral relations between the two states.
Following their meeting on the sidelines of CoP28 in Dubai UAE on December 1, Lukashenko said for the two countries to develop their relations, the two leaders need to engage on areas of mutual interest.
“You and I have already exchanged several phrases and opinions before the opening of the summit. In order for us to have a thorough conversation and improve our relations, I think you could come to us, I could come to you at a convenient time,” state-owned Belarusian Telegram Agency (BELTA) quoted Lukashenko as saying.
“As a result of these visits, our specialists would work (just like with Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea) and we would be able to build a certain plan for our cooperation, understanding what you need from us. And we would look at your country and decide on our needs,” added Lukashenko.
President Ruto’s communication team did not report on the meeting.
In November, Lukashenko sent a message of goodwill to President Ruto on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Lukashenko said dialogue between Minsk and Nairobi is consistent and progressive; priority areas for joint work have been identified, including the mechanization of Kenya’s agriculture, the supply of Belarusian food products, and the development of business contacts.
“I am convinced that the time has come to convert the potential accumulated over 30 years into concrete results. I propose to substantively discuss all possible areas of common interest during your visit to Minsk, which will take our interaction to a qualitatively new level,” Lukashenko said in the goodwill message.
Despite officially establishing diplomatic relations on November 17, 1993, Belarus only opened its embassy in Nairobi on December 10, 2018. On the other hand, Minsk is covered by Kenya’s embassy in Moscow.
Ambassador Pavel Vziatkin presented his credentials to then President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 3, 2021.
The opening of the Belarus embassy was preceded by high-level meetings, among them a visit by a Belarusian delegation led by Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Valentin Rybakov on October 16-17, 2014, when the first round of ministerial consultations was held.
On February 7, 2015, a meeting between the Foreign ministers of Belarus and Kenya was held at the 51st Munich Security Conference. Between 2015-18, Belarusian delegations from the National Bank of Belarus also visited Kenya.
In May 2017, Lukashenko met with Kenyatta on the sidelines of the “One Belt and One Road” in Beijing, China.
In August 2022, Belarus Ambassador to Russia Dmitry Krutoy met with Kenya’s envoy to Russia and Belarus concurrently Henry Ogutu and discussed means of intensifying political and business contacts, expanding trade and economic cooperation, and developing the legal framework to facilitate the engagements.
Under President Ruto’s administration, Belarus Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Aleinik visited Kenya on April 1-3, 2023, where the two sides discussed cooperation in the political, trade, economic, scientific, technical, cultural and humanitarian fields. They agreed to undertake steps towards developing cooperation in agriculture and industry, energy and the green economy, education, tourism, and cultural exchanges.
Kenya and Belarus also agreed to form a legal and institutional framework to discuss and sign agreements on trade and economic cooperation, education, avoidance of double taxation and abolition of visas for holders of diplomatic and service passports. Cooperation in the mechanization of agriculture, strengthening the industrial potential of Kenya and expanding mutual trade and industrial cooperation were also discussed.
The visit came a month after an expose by The Daily Nation of a plan shrouded in secrecy to import agricultural equipment worth Sh31 billion. According to the report, the deal was to be executed in18-months by the moribund Agricultural Financial Cooperation. The project didn’t take off due to pressure from the West.
On June 7, then Trade Minister Moses Kuria and his Agriculture and Livestock Development counterpart Mithika Linturi travelled to Minsk to discuss prospects of importing tractors and potash fertilizers from Belarus. They also met Minister Aleinik.
Ambassador Pavel in July told BELTA that Belarusian-Kenyan ties are on the rise but noted relations in politics, trade, and humanitarian affairs are “in their nascence for now”.
“There are great prospects around industrial cooperation from the point of view of promotion of assembly enterprises and manufacturing cooperation. These are quite lengthy processes, but we should look into the future, and it is the African region that offers us a perspective,” the envoy said on the sidelines of a seminar that gathered heads of Belarusian diplomatic missions.