A new development stage in the left forces’ coalition
On April 17th in Minsk, “Green” Party, “Fair World” Belarusian Left Party and the organizing committee of the Belarusian Labour Party leaders held a joint press conference.
So far, the political coalition between the leftist parties is limited to the creation of an informal ideological leftist platform. However, there is some progress in the building up of a coalition, which is evidenced by joint public appearances of the left-wing parties’ leaders.
The leftist platform was created on April 12th, at a joint meeting of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), Belarusian Left Party “Fair World”, “Green” Party and the organizing committee of the Belarusian Labour Party. This platform is not a formal political bloc, rather a framework for joint actions by ideologically close forces.
The ‘Platform’ declared a joint action to be held on May 1st, as well as the creation of a leftist information web portal. Organizers said the platform would not have a formal leader. However, on April 17th, during the press conference they did not rule out the nomination of a single leftist candidate for the 2015 presidential elections.
Inside the Belarusian opposition, coalitions form due to both, the political momentum (upcoming local and presidential elections) and the lack of human and financial resources which the opposition parties and movements could contribute individually. The most explicit distinctive feature of the Platform is that it is ideologically orienting towards the promotion of social-democratic values and workers’ rights’ protection.
Political capacities of the new leftist platform (as well as the ‘trio’s’ BPF, For Freedom and Tell the Truth and other opposition groups and individual players) will be tested soon – during the local elections in 2014. The 2012 Parliamentary campaign has demonstrated that the opposition is more prone to scattered actions, rather than preserving coalitions before, during and after the elections.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.