Minsk offers friendship to Yerevan and weapons to Baku
While declaring friendship with Armenia, in reality, Minsk takes pro-Azerbaijani position. This is due to both, special personal relations between Aliyev and Lukashenka, and Belarus’ pragmatic interests.
At a meeting with outgoing Armenian Ambassador Armen Khachatryan on March 28th, 2017, Lukashenka talked about the great importance of friendly relations with Yerevan for Belarus. Meanwhile, Belarus’ policy in the South Caucasus prioritises strategic partnership with Baku, including in the military-technical sphere, which directly affects Armenia’s security.
In early September 2016, the news broke that Russia supplied the Iskander-E tactical missile systems with a 280 km range to Armenia. Baku announced its intention to find a symmetrical response to the rearmament of the Armenian army. The Belarusian military-industrial complex was prompt to take advantage of the situation. At ADEX-2016, a military exhibition hosted by Baku on September 27th - 30th, Belarus presented the MLRS Polonaise with a 300 km range, which became of the most important presentations. President Aliyev received the Belarusian military delegation personally, which was not a mere protocol decision. Within ADEX-2016 the Azerbaijani leader personally received representatives of only three countries - Turkey, Pakistan and Belarus.
That said, as a rule, Belarus’ law enforcement delegations are received at the highest political level. In addition, Azerbaijani generals publicly thank Belarusian generals for supporting Azerbaijan's position on Nagorno-Karabakh. It is understood that Armenia has cautious attitude to such statements.
Tension between Minsk and Yerevan is likely to persist. Despite the fact, that Belarus and Armenia are formally Russia's closest allies and are the CSTO members; their positions on security issues in the South Caucasus differ fundamentally. Armenia is likely to attempt to use the CSTO and her special relations with Moscow to put political pressure on Belarus and somewhat restrict military-technical cooperation between Minsk and Baku. However, such actions are unlikely to have any tangible effect: Belarus receives concrete benefits from cooperation with Azerbaijan, while Armenia has nothing to offer.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.