Future of Belarus in the EURONEST
On 21 April during a meeting with the Belarusian MPs in Minsk, the Head of the Parliamentary delegation of Azerbaijan to the Parliamentary Assembly of the EURONEST Ali Huseynov spoke against the policy of isolation of Belarus and called on other “Eastern Partnership” countries to defend full membership of Belarus in it.
The statement by the Head of the Azerbaijani Parliamentary Delegation is in line with the statements made by the Head of the Parliamentary Delegation of Armenia to the EURONEST Vahan Hovhannisyan, during an enlarged meeting of the Bureau of the European Parliament on 25-26 January. The position of the Armenian Delegation regarding Belarusian involvement in the EURONEST was also supported by an official representative of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Ddelegation.
One can argue that the official Belarus made progress in building up its “internal” lobby in the EURONEST, given it was originally excluded from it for non-compliance with the democratic standards of the OSCE. To date, the Belarusian lobby consists of the Heads of Delegations of Armenia and Azerbaijan with a moderate supported by the Ukrainian delegation. The Belarusian lobbying group is headed by Deputy of the National Assembly, member of the Communist Party and Head of the Parliamentary Commission for International Affairs and Relations with the CIS, appearing in the EU “black list”, Igor Karpenko.
On the other hand, Belarus failed to form “external” lobby in Brussels. The European Parliament in the person of EP Delegation to the EURONEST Kristian Vigenin, supported by the EP President Jerzy Buzek spoke emphatically that following the 19 December events in Minsk, Belarus could not be represented in the EURONEST at the official level. The following meeting of the EURONEST is scheduled for 3 May and most likely will be held without the official Belarusian Delegation.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.