By late 1992, more than 100 countries had recognized Belarus, and nearly seventy of them had established some level of diplomatic relations with it. Belarus had a limited number of embassies abroad because its diplomatic activities, as all other phases of life, were severely constrained by economic hardships. There was also a shortage of experienced diplomats who were Belarusian citizens; international relations had been the purview of Moscow during the Soviet era and continued to be mainly the purview of ethnic Russians residing in, but not citizens of, Belarus.
In 1995 Belarus was a member of a number of international organizations, including the United Nations (UN) (of which it was a founding member), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE; until January 1995 known as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe), the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Belarus also has observer status at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, the Council of Europe in 1995 declared Belarus to be ineligible for membership in the Council of Europe because of shortcomings in its elections and its election laws, including restrictions on mass media coverage of the spring 1995 parliamentary campaign and restrictions on candidates' campaign expenditures.
Belarusian authorities, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have been trying to promote the widest possible contacts with Belarusians living abroad (and particularly in the West), with an eye to developing economic and cultural cooperation. The Belarusian domestic media have devoted an increasing amount of space to the life of émigrés, including their past and present activities. A number of cultural exchanges, conferences, and joint ventures took place during the early 1990s; a World Reunion of Belarusians was held in the republic's capital in 1993.
But not everybody in the republic concurs with these initiatives. From the ultraconservatives came denunciations of the émigrés for their alleged collaboration with the Nazis during World War II and their employment by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. However, the democratic opposition groups, including the BPF, have engaged in their own cooperative efforts with Belarusian émigré organizations, through which they have reached out for contacts with Western politicians and governments.
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