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February 8 – February 14, 2021
Belarus-West relations

Regime wants to normalise relations with the West with Belarus as a Russian satellite state

The situation has not changed
Regime wants to normalise relations with the West with Belarus as a Russian satellite state

By Dzianis Melyantsou

At the all-Belarusian People’s Assembly, the ‘hostile acts from the West’ narrative was reiterated, and the imperative of a pro-Russian foreign policy emphasised, however interest in normalising relations with the West was also in evidence.

During his speech at the People’s Assembly, Lukashenka repeated the canard of a failed “blitzkrieg” inspired by the West. Traditional rhetoric about the destructive role of the United States and other Western countries in world politics via “sanctions regimes” also featured.

Lukashenka and Foreign Minister Makei stressed Russia’s overriding importance for Belarusian foreign policy; however, the concept of multi-polar relations has not been entirely abandoned. Lukashenka declared that Belarus is interested in having “balanced and diverse ties with the outside world” and emphasised that relations with the European Union are also crucial for Belarus.

Makei proposed that the neutrality principle declared in the Constitution be reviewed as it is not congruent with the current situation. He also suggested that export targets be revised from the current 30/30/30 (Russia/EU/Others) to 50/25/25. Lukashenka agreed to consider the Constitutional neutrality provision.

The opening of the People’s Assembly provoked a pointed reaction from the European Parliament. In a joint statement Robert Biedron, the head of the European Parliament’s delegation on relations with Belarus and Petras Auštrevičius the EP special rapporteur on Belarus characterised the forum as an illegitimate travesty of democracy. They further called for an end to large-scale repression and violations of human rights and a genuine national dialogue leading to a peaceful transition of power.

A positive step in relations with the EU was the visit of experts from the European Group of Nuclear Safety Regulators (ENSREG) to the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) who were granted access to all facilities of interest to them. The visit took place within the peer review framework of the national action plan following the completion of stress tests at the nuclear plant. Pre-empting the results of this mission, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the safety of the BNPP, characterising the construction of the plant as a geopolitical act and a possible threat to the European Union and its member states in terms of health, safety, and environmental protection.

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