Lukashenko secures himself against the power change in Georgia
President Lukashenko has made it clear that after the Georgian President Saakashvili party’s loss during the parliamentary elections, he is ready to cooperate with Invanishvili’s winning party “Georgian Dream”. In return, he offered Georgia his mediation support in relations with Russia, but Georgia is unlikely to be interested.
On October 4th, President Lukashenko gave an interview to the Interstate TV and Radio Company “Mir”*. To a significant extent, the interview was devoted to the past parliamentary elections in Georgia and the Belarusian-Georgian relations.
Belarus is interested in preserving Georgian support in international organizations, especially within the EU “Eastern Partnership” Programme and UN institutions. To be more specific, Belarus requires Georgian delegation’s political support in the Eastern Partnership’s Parliamentary Assembly EURONEST, where Belarusian parliamentary delegation has not yet been officially represented and moreover, is a subject to harsh criticism from the European Parliament.
In bilateral relations, it is important for Belarus to maintain cooperation with Georgia on migration issues: a visa-free regime de facto opens Russian border for Georgian nationals. Such a regime is one of the Belarusian geopolitics’ components, enabling the authorities to remain a “gateway” to the evolving Eurasian Economic Union. In turn, Georgia provided political support to Belarus at the Foreign Ministry level, particularly, during the acute phase in the Belarus – EU conflict in the spring of 2012.
Therefore, after the “Georgian Dream” won the parliamentary elections on October 1st, President Lukashenko felt necessary to send an unambiguous signal to Tbilisi about his desire to maintain continuity in bilateral relations. Lukashenko said that he saw no fundamental differences in the Ivanishvili’s and Saakashvili’s parties’ policies. The Belarusian President also offered himself as a mediator in the Georgian-Russian conflict over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The problem with this kind of mediation is that its success requires a common internationally recognized institution. President Lukashenko proposed that the CIS could play such role, bearing in mind potential Belarus’ chairmanship in 2013. However, after the armed conflict in 2008, Georgia is not willing to return to the CIS and a “Georgian Dream” representative has already made a statement in this regard.
Therefore, Belarus’ mediation efforts in the Georgian-Russian conflict, as well as the attempt of the Belarusian leadership to improve its international status within the CIS are futile. Probably, bilateral cooperation between Belarus and Georgia will remain at the current level, which is perfectly acceptable for the authorities.
* Interstate TV and Radio Program “Mir” is available in 14 post-Soviet states. Its overall audience is about 15 million people (analog broadcasting), 48 million (cable broadcasting), and about 25 million (satellite broadcast).
According to Decree No. 221 of June 23rd, 2017, deadlines for the completion of foreign trade operations have been extended from 90 to 180 days for exports and from 60 to 90 days for imports. Delayed payments entailed a fine up to 2% of the transaction cost for each day of the delay, but could not exceed the total cost of the transaction. Most companies, when working with new counterparties, require a deferred payment for a period of three to six months. Due to the new regulation, violations are likely to reduce in number, so as the fines. Trade enterprises are likely to expand the assortment list due to the supply of new products in small lots, and the assortment list of exported Belarusian goods could expand, too. The new terms for completing foreign trade transactions would enable medium and small companies on the foreign trade market, exporters and importers are likely to grow in number and the geography of export-import operations could expand.