Minsk's refusal to participate in EU program "Dialogue on modernization" exacerbates the crisis of bilateral relations
On 9 July in Minsk, Evdochenko, the Belarusian Ambassador to Belgium and the Permanent Representative of Belarus to the EU, said that Belarus was ready to participate only in EU programs that were jointly developed and offered.
Official Minsk demonstrates that it is not going to participate in EU partnership programs, developed unilaterally. The inhibition of another project on establishing relations points to the continuation of bilateral policy crisis: Minsk is not prepared to make concessions, and Brussels is not ready to engage in dialogue with the Belarusian authorities.
The refusal of the Belarusian side to participate in the EU program \"Dialogue on modernization\" was predictable, and had an objective basis. According to the statement of Evdochenko, this program was developed without consultation with the representation of Belarus in the EU. In addition, the program has already been launched with the participation of the opposition, civil and independent expert community and without the participation of the authorities.
These two factors lead to the fact that the Belarusian authorities are not interested in joining the already existing program, which engages their political opponents. Therefore, the most likely further reaction of the authorities will be at minimum to ignore the program.
More active blocking actions by the authorities, up to the restriction of contacts between Belarusian and European participants, are also likely. In the end, the authorities’ reaction depends on the activity and the spheres of activity of the participants of the program \"Dialogue for modernization\" inside Belarus.
The inhibition of this program at the official level in Belarus will contribute to the inhibition of other Belarus-European projects under the regional program \"Eastern Partnership\", and, in particular, the National Platform of Civil Society Forum. As a consequence, the Western policy vector of the official Minsk remains locked, whereas current projects are limited to a narrow sector of non-governmental and opposition organizations.
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.