Lukashenko’s participation in Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga depends on Kremlin
At a meeting with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, President Lukashenko said that Belarus counted on Latvia’s assistance in promoting cooperation between Belarus and other EU member states. The Belarusian government expects to unblock relations with European capitals and receive an invitation to participate in the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit in May this year at the highest level - for President Lukashenko. However, official Minsk is not ready to fulfil the basic requirements of the EU to initiate the normalisation process in Belarusian-European relations, i.e. to release the remaining political prisoners. In addition, amid the Kremlin’s sharply negative attitude to the EU’s Eastern Partnership Programme, when deciding on participation in the Riga Summit, Belarus would have to take into account potentially negative reaction from Moscow, which seriously reduces the likelihood of Lukashenko’s participation.
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.