At first glance, the answer is simple – of course they are. There are flight connections, five land borders with almost visa-free enter into the country. However, we tried to look deeper at the topic.
Let’s start with the official statistics of the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus.
About 7,500 people arrived in Belarus in 2018 as emigrants. It would seem, logically, that 7,500 people are expats, but that’s not so simple. We practically don’t see these people in the cultural context of our society. Why? The answer is simple, official statistics don’t provide accurate data on how many of those 7,500 people arrived from Africa, Asia or other countries, but we assume that more than 90% of foreign citizens moved into Belarus from countries with military conflict and economically underdeveloped countries. It seems to me that these people cannot manifest themselves as expats in the sense in which we imagine it, as well as full-fledged consumers of services. And participate in a full cultural exchange.
Speaking of labor emigration, it is safe to say that Belarus cannot pay competitive money even compared to Russia, not to mention the countries of Europe and other economically developed countries. Therefore, it is extremely rare to find a qualified foreign specialist, I would say extremely rarely.
Let’s try to take as an example such a country as Germany, which we see in this case. In the same year of 2018 367,000 emigrants arrived in the country, and more than 500,000 people temporarily arrived as labor migrants, and that’s not counting those who arrived on the grounds of political asylum.
It would be possible to end here, however I see another reason for the lack of expatriates in Belarus, and it is no less important.
In my clear conviction, foreigners here are not comfortable and not interested. Uninterested for the reasons: The climate for more than 6 months of the year is unpleasant, the services, to put it mildly, is not familiar, but the main thing is mental discomfort. In a word, it is very difficult to answer why this is so, but in general terms it can be described as follows: Belarusians are not cheerful, sly, unjustifiably proud, by the way unreasonably proud. This is understandable, the most difficult economic situation, terrible unemployment, complete insecurity both at work and in society. One goal dominates: “survive at all costs”.
Also let’s look at the popular site in Belarus for English-speaking people all around the world Internations.org. The total number of visitors to the site is not more than 700 people, and more than 80% of them are Belarusians (mainly young people with unspent illusions, whose goals they meet in order to leave Belarus, try to “push back and earn a penny for life, etc.” As for foreigners, if there are 100 visitors, it will be a great success.
So I came to the answer to the question whether there are expats in Belarus, in my opinion not, at least as I understand this word in the context of the European mentality.