History of a Modern Belarusian Diplomatic Service
The lands of modern-day Belarus mantained foreign contacts since the early times of the Principality of Polotsk.
The first known international agreements concluded by the Belarusian principalities with foreign states were the Peace and Trade Agreements between Polotsk and Riga of 1210 and 1212. These documents have not survived to the present days, but were mentioned in the Livonian Chronicle of Henry.
The era of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania deserves special mentioning. In 1429, Lutsk, which at that time was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, hosted the congress of European monarchs, one of the most notable events in the history of medieval European diplomacy. This event can be considered as the first international summit. At the invitation of Prince Vytautas more than 15 thousand people arrived at Lutsk. The participants of the congress far outnumbered the population of the city.
Many compatriots of ours worked as diplomats for such states as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire.
Among them are well-known diplomats of their time representatives of the Oginski family, who mantained close ties with the Belarusian lands. Andrei Oginsky, Marshal of the Seimas, served as envoy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in Berlin and St.Petersburg. The encryption messages that he sent from Vienna to King Stanisław August Poniatowski have survived to this day. His son, Michal Kleofas Oginsky, better known as a composer, was the Ambassador to the Netherlands and carried out a diplomatic mission in London.
After the establishment in 1791 of the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joachim Chreptowicz, a native of the Belarusian lands, was appointed the first Foreign Minister of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
After the incorporation of the Belarusian lands into the Russian Empire, our compatriots eventually joined the Russian diplomatic service.
Belarusian and Japanese diplomats remember and honor the legacy of the first diplomatic representative of the Russian Empire to the Land of the Rising Sun, a native of Belarusian lands, linguist and orientalist Iosif Goshkevich.
The starting point of our institution’s modern history coincides with the very first mentioning of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belorussia (SFA SSRB) in press. A short article was published in the newspaper “Zvyazda” on January 22, 1919, which stated that “the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs started functioning” and was located in Minsk, Koydanovskaya str., 21 (nowadays – Revolutsyonnaya str., 15).
The year 2019 marked the 100th Anniversary of a Modern Belarusian Diplomatic Service, which history started with the formation of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Soviet Republic of Belorussia.
According to archive documents, a small, consisting of 12 people, diplomatic service was headed by a member of the Provisional Workers-Peasants Soviet Government of the Belarusian Republic, Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, Vsevolod Falsky, born in Loshitsa village, Minsk region.
At the provisional government’s meeting held on January 27, 1919 the CFA SSRB was given its first’ order – “to solicit the RSFSR Center for the return of all evacuated property to the Belarusian Republic”. The protocol also contains a conclusion on financing of the CFA activities and information about the statement made by a member of government responsible for foreign affairs.
The first diplomatic mission of the young Belarusian Soviet State was opened in Moscow on March 24, 1921. The plenipotentiary representation of the SSRB in the RSFSR was a part of the diplomatic corps accredited in the Russian Federation, enjoyed immunities and privileges, maintained official contacts with the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the RSFSR and diplomatic missions in Moscow.
On August 22, 1921 the Council of People’s Commissars of the BSSR approved the Regulations on the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and appointed Alexander Chervyakov, a native of the Dukora village, Minsk region, as a head of the Commissariat.
The next important historical steps are the reestablishment of the BSSR People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and later on – institution of the BSSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its’ basis. On March 24, 1944 the BSSR Supreme Council adopted the law on setting up the BSSR People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. In 1946, the BSSR People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs was transformed into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The world community recognized the BSSR contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany: the Belarusian SSR became one of the founders of the United Nations Organization and signed the UN Charter in 1945. BSSR missions to the UN were opened in New York, as well as to the international organizations in Vienna, Paris and Geneva.
We are proud of outstanding Belarusian diplomats, who made a significant contribution into the formation and development of a modern diplomacy and are great examples of high professionalism and unwavering commitment to their Homeland. Among them are A.Chervyakov, K.Kiselev, A.Gurinovich, as well as A.Gromyko, who headed the MFA of the USSR for many years. And this list can go on and on.
With the formation of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Belarus in 1990, national diplomacy continued to develop together with the young state.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been and remains at the “frontline” of the struggle for real independence, increase of the role of Belarus in the world. Foreign Ministry seeks to implement effective foreign policy and foreign economic course set by the President.
Over the years of independence, the Republic of Belarus has achieved significant success on the international arena, became a participant of new integration projects, expanded the range of its’ foreign partners and allies, opened, mastered and secured new promising markets.
One year in the history of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry
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