Belarusian opposition declares consolidation
On 29 June in Minsk representatives of six opposition parties and democratic movements have signed an agreement on conditions of participation in the upcoming Parliamentary elections.
They have put forward demands to the authorities: to release political prisoners and guarantee free elections. The agreement was signed by the leaders of UCP, BChD, BPF, “Fair World” party, “For Freedom” movement and “Tell the Truth!” civil campaign.
On the one hand, the Belarusian opposition demonstrates consistency in the coordination of their positions and step by step approach to forming a consolidated view on key policy issues: resolution of political crisis after 19 December and the Parliamentary elections of 2012. The most topical issues include the release of political prisoners and a likely boycott of the Parliamentary elections, depending on the reaction of the authorities.
However, this event should be regarded as tactical rather than strategic step. Regardless of the obvious progress in the rapprochement of positions, representatives of political parties and movements emphasize that the signed document is an agreement, not an action programme. Also a joint statement by the leaders of political parties and movements should not be considered as establishment of a new coalition.
Therefore the agreement has no “added value” in political sense and represents yet another formal document, repeatedly voicing usual claims to the Belarusian authorities. The more so, one of the signatories of the agreement, the leader of the “Fair World” Party Mr. Kalyakin talked previously at the party congress about the Party’s participation in the Parliamentary elections on condition of democratization of the electoral system.
In the first place, the agreement is not addressed to the authorities, rather to other democratic partners and represents a „trial balloon”. Its main objective is to test the grounds for potential future coalitions. At the same time, optional and tactical nature of the agreement provides a strong reason to doubt that it will be signed by new parties.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.