Minsk aims to step up Belarusian staff in international organisations

July 17, 2017 11:51

Belarusian Ambassador to Vienna Elena Kupchina, who was nominated as a candidate for the OSCE Secretary General post, could not ensure a consensus during the OSCE member states’ vote. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry attempted to take advantage of the favourable foreign policy environment and the support from the Kremlin to enhance its diplomatic successes. Apparently, the Belarusian leadership has started a systemic work to increase its participation in authoritative international organisations. Belarusian representatives at high positions in international organisations could reinforce ambitions of the Belarusian leadership on global peacekeeping initiatives. In all likelihood, the strengthening of the diplomatic block in the Belarusian politics could lead to tension in relations with the power block, which, however, could be relaxed due to increased involvement of law enforcement in the redistribution of state resources and anti-corruption persecution. Nevertheless, due to the interest in stepping up its international presence, Minsk is likely to soften domestic policy and engage in some dialogue with civil society.

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Amidst growing dysfunctionality of state administration Belarusian authorities continue to lose touch with population
July 17, 2017 11:27
Erik Sigerud, Post Mortem, 2009, oil and vinyl on canvas, 74.8” x 177.” Courtesy of the artist.

Amid budgetary cuts on social protection, the Belarusian public sector is experiencing a management crisis and a balance shift in the state resource redistribution system. The authorities are forced to revise their most unpopular decisions during the implementation due to the pressure from affected social groups. The state is unlikely to oppose to some civil society and opposition organisations in strengthening their role in society in order to retain touch with the population and to be able to respond to the most harsh criticism of state initiatives.

The Architecture and Construction Ministry has acknowledged that the decree No 585 on assistance to large and young families in building and buying housing was prematurely rescinded.

The authorities are often forced to revise their decisions on curtailing social assistance to different social groups during their implementation, without preliminary impact assessment and feedback from the population, so as they lead to the growth in social tension. Due to the centralised decision making, languishing state resources and the lack of public debate as a balancing instrument in issues related to social protection, the state administration is losing control of the population.

Perhaps, the compensatory mechanisms of the state apparatus lack the time to adjust to dwindling state resources for supporting the existing social model, even in a reduced form. The authorities have completely or partially paralysed operations of independent public institutions and representative bodies, through which they could monitor public moods and receive feedback from the population, such as local councils, the parliament, political parties and NGOs. Last year, under the pressure of the authorities, the last independent institute for measuring public sentiment, IISEPS, suspended operations.

President Lukashenka’s self-removal from the decision-making on current socio-economic issues, also could have affected the state apparatus’ operations. The president has always been very sensitive about adopting unpopular decisions which could lower his popular support, hence demanded a careful preliminary assessment of such decisions. However, recently, especially after the introduction of the tax on social dependants, the president has mainly focused on the foreign policy agenda.

Hence, a lacuna has formed in the state decision-making after the president reduced participation in the current socio-economic policy formation, which leads to an increase in manifestations of dysfunction in the public administration.