Official Minsk ready for cooperation with EU
Official Minsk has engaged in the ‘interim stage’ of a dialogue proposed by Brussels in February this year. The Belarusian authorities could step up cooperation with the EU due to a combination of favourable external factors: lower EU requirements vis-à-vis the Belarusian government amid the Russo-Ukrainian crisis, the growing regional significance of Belarus, and generational change in the EU’s foreign policy – new EU officials do not have negative experience of cooperation with the Belarusian leadership. According to the Belarusian authorities, they were able to impose their conditions on cooperation with European partners and reduce the negotiations with Brussels to economic issues only.
Having depoliticised cooperation with the EU, the Belarusian authorities released one of the political prisoners – human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, whose detention was not directly related to the December 19th, 2010 events. Depending on Brussels’ response to Bialiatski’s release, the authorities might be prepared to release the remaining political prisoners. Belarus’ authorities are extremely interested in balancing out the growing lopsided dependence on the Kremlin, as well as receiving financial support from international institutions. However, the Belarusian authorities’ cooperation with Brussels will continue only if the latter does not endanger the political regime’s stability.
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.