Minsk and Jerusalem will reduce level of interstate contacts
In 2016, Belarus and Israel will close their embassies in these countries. According to the Foreign Ministry, Belarus will close its embassy in Israel due to economic reasons and budget constraints. In 2003, Jerusalem closed the embassy in Minsk because of the cost savings, but reopened two years later. Meanwhile, foreign policy analysts believe that the closure of the embassies could be due to political reasons – domestic clashes between various parties in Israel, as well as Belarus lacking the independence in foreign policy and her dependence on the Kremlin. It is worth noting that Belarus has friendly or benevolent relations with some Middle East countries, which are not in the neighbourly relations, and often confront one another, such as Israel, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. When embassies close, relations between Minsk and Israel are likely to chill, as they will lose high-level political contacts and an important communication channel.
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.