Presidents Lukashenko and Nikolić played on the public
On March 12th – 13th Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić was on the official visit to Minsk
Belarus’ main goal was to demonstrate the image-making breakthrough in the Belarus’ political isolation on the eve of talks with Russian President Putin. However, there will be no real strengthening of the political cooperation between Belarus and Serbia and with the European Union using Serbia’s mediation.
Tomislav Nikolić’s surprise visit to Minsk played into the Belarusian authorities hands for several political reasons. First, the Serbian President arrived in Belarus right after talks with Ashton in Brussels about the disputed status of the Serbian community in Kosovo and about the Serbia’s accession to the EU. Belarus is known for her tough stance on condemning the war in Serbia and Kosovo’s sovereignty, and the visit gave President Lukashenko the occasion to demonstrate his position to the European Union, the US and Russia once again.
Second, on the eve of the Supreme Council of the Union State of Belarus and Russia meeting in St. Petersburg on March 15th, Belarusian leadership was interested in demonstrating to the Kremlin the demand for Belarus not only in Russia but also in other countries, especially in Europe. Since 2010, the Belarusian president’s international contacts have been consistently and compulsively narrowed, primarily looping on Minsk-Moscow relations.
Nevertheless, the talks between Nikolić and Lukashenko and the set of signed documents do not suggest the political cooperation between Minsk and Belgrade will be strengthened significantly. Currently, Belarus and Serbia hold complex negotiations with their by far more powerful partners (the EU and Russia respectively) therefore they are interested in demonstrating, at least, “political alibi” to their counterparts. At the same time, both countries are seriously limited in their political maneuvers.
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.