EURONEST without Belarus

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April 22, 2016 17:49

On 3 May the first meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the “Eastern Partnership” EURONEST was held in Brussels. The Belarusian delegation was not represented at the event or participated in the inaugural signing of the documents.

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The Statute of the EURONEST allows for the participation in the Assembly of countries that meet democratic standards of the OSCE, i.e. Belarus lost its chance to participate in this international platform. The Statute of the EURONEST allows for the participation in the Assembly of countries that meet democratic standards of the OSCE, i.e. Belarus lost its chance to participate in this international platform.Earlier, Minsk was making efforts to form a “domestic lobby” in the EURONEST, however it is obvious that such lobby was unsuccessful vis-a-vis all 6 parliamentary delegations of the EURONEST or the European Parliament. 

Therefore, the EURONEST started in the "one to six" format. Following Lukashenko’s diplomatic row (see issue of 25-30 April) against the Ukrainian President and the Chairman of the European Commission, it was obvious the EURONEST would be launched without Belarus. However, the Belarusian Parliament and the Foreign Ministry came up with particularly strong statements, expressing doubts about the legitimacy of the entire "Eastern Partnership" (the MFA) and vowing to ignore the decision of the inaugural forum (the Parliament). 

Such a drastic reaction of the Foreign Ministry raises concerns about the continuation of support by the “inner lobby” of Belarus in the EURONEST. Nevertheless, the Belarusian MPs left in their statement an open door for the possibility of further cooperation with the EU. Potential for restoring partnership between the EU and Belarus is very vague, primarily due to the elimination of partnership and dialogue tools (OSCE, EURONEST), and also due to the serious deterioration of relations with some countries after 19 December (Poland, Germany, Ukraine). At the moment it is very difficult to predict what political force and what institutional platform would be able to overcome this crisis.

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President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.

President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.

The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.

The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.

The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.

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