Belarus reacts positively to potential Ukraine Association Treaty with EU
Border demarcation will help strengthen friendly relations between Belarus and Ukraine, Belarus’ Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said at the ceremony to unveil the first border marker on the Belarus-Ukraine border in Dobrush District on November 13th.
Ukraine’s integration with the European Union is a sensitive issue in Russo-Belarusian relations. Although political relations between Belarus and Ukraine lag behind the two countries’ economic cooperation, Belarusian leaders have made some statements and steps which show support for the Ukraine-EU integration. And if Ukraine signs the Association Agreement, president Lukashenko anticipates gaining greater importance in relations with the Kremlin.
Belarus’ relations with Ukraine often depend on its own relations with Russia or Europe. Political relations between Belarus and Ukraine intensify when Belarus-EU relations improve, e.g. in 2008-2010. However, deterioration of Belarus-EU relations results in political cooperation being suspended between Belarus and Ukraine.
Ukraine’s intention to sign the Association Agreement with the EU caused a sharp reaction from the Kremlin. However, this has not complicated political cooperation between Belarus and Ukraine. Quite the opposite, Belarus has made some moves which indicate its support for Ukraine-EU integration. Lukashenko said: “frankly speaking, I see no problems in this step towards cooperation with the EU”. In addition, Prime Minister Myasnikovich also supported the Ukrainian leadership during a meeting with Ukrainian Government Head Azarov: “In this situation, Belarus by no means should lose its trade with Ukraine, and perhaps even find some advantages. That is a very large market”.
In addition, Belarus has made concessions to Ukraine on problematic issues which existed for over a decade. For a long time, Belarus delayed the ratification of the Treaty on the State Border between Ukraine and Belarus (signed in 1997), finally ratifying it in 2010. However, Lukashenko expected some favours from Ukraine: “We have ratified the border issue therefore we should take measures that will show the true intentions of Ukraine and Belarus”. But when Belarus-EU relations deteriorated after the 2010 presidential campaign, Belarus-Ukrainian relations stalled for a long time. In 2013, amid worsened Russo-Ukrainian relations, Belarus finally decided to exchange ratification instruments of the Treaty on the State Border with Ukraine.
Belarus regards Ukraine-EU integration as an additional opportunity to enhance its importance vis-à-vis the Kremlin. Belarus believes that it stands fewer chances of greater benefits from Russia if the EU treaty with Ukraine is not signed.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.