Minsk is attempting to remove barriers in relations with Astana

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June 12, 2017 12:09
Image: Belarus Security Blog

Minsk has used political contacts with Astana to balance the Kremlin’s actions, however, recently Belarusian and Kazakh interests have been at odds on some issues. Apparently, the Kazakh leadership has a cautious attitude towards the Minsk’s attempt to initiate a peacekeeping process on the international agenda. Meanwhile, preserving acceptable cooperation levels with Astana within the Eurasian space is of key importance for Minsk.

Next week, President Lukashenka will make a working visit to Kazakhstan, where he will attend a meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Kazakhstan is ready to support Belarus on the international arena as long as it is in line with Kazakh interests and not in opposition to the Kremlin. Over the past 20 years, bilateral relations between Minsk and Astana were free from serious complications.

Economic ties between Belarus and Kazakhstan are insignificant and the latter appears to be more interested in the integration with China. That said, cooperation with China is a priority for the Kazakh leadership and Minsk may even regard China as a rival. Apparently, the meeting should remove this tension and, possibly, strengthen mutual interests.

Kazakhstan has made attempts to become a negotiating platform for the Syrian conflict. Meanwhile, Minsk has attempted to seize this initiative, and the Kazakh leadership is unenthusiastic about it. This initiative is crucial for the Belarusian authorities and, according to them, Astana should take a back seat on this matter.

Minsk and Astana are competing for the Kremlin’s attention and are not willing to cave in to mutual claims, which could cause tension and conflicts. Nevertheless, both have common interests within the EEU framework, which is dominated by Russian lobbyists. Hence, by joining efforts, Belarus and Kazakhstan could stand against them more effectively.

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According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.

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