EURONEST without Belarus
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.
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.
The country's leadership has instructed the local authorities to raise minimum wages at enterprises by the end of 2019 to BYN 1,000, which would lead to an increase in the average wage in the economy as a whole to BYN 1 500. The pace of wage growth in 2017 is insufficient to ensure payroll at BYN 1000 by late 2017 without manipulating statistical indicators. In order to fulfil the president’s order, the government would have to increase budgetary expenditures on wages in healthcare and education, enterprises – to carry out further layoffs and expand the practice of taking loans to pay wages and restrict investment in modernisation of fixed assets. In 2010, the artificial increase in wages led to a threefold devaluation in 2011, an increase in the average salary to BYN 1500 will not match the capabilities of the economy and would lead to yet another devaluation.