Staff shifts in the Belarusian Foreign Ministry
Government’s Regulation No 142 of March 4th, 2013 changed the leadership in several bilateral commissions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Belarus’ staffing policy in the Foreign Ministry aims at alienating those responsible for negotiations with the West in 2008 - 2010. New personas will be in the focus of the new round of negotiations: Deputy Foreign Ministers Sergei Guryanov and Elena Kupchina.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s increased activity, marked earlier, is complemented by the changes in the negotiating groups. Government Regulation No 142 appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Guryanov in charge of the American and Latino-American policy (in particular through the Belarusian-American Committee for Business Development and similar committees for Argentina, Ecuador and Cuba).
Formally, Mr. Guryanov did not participate in the ‘liberalization’ project in 2008-2010. Since early 2006 to October 2010 he worked as Belarusian Ambassador in Korea and was appointed Deputy Minister in February 2011, shortly after the December 19th, 2010 events. However, Guryanov is not an alien official to the Belarus’ European foreign policy. In the mid 90’s, he was a stagier at the UNDP and the World Bank’s Economics Institute in Warsaw, as well as at the Joint Vienna Institute.
Simultaneously, Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Rybakov, who in 2003-2005 worked as Belarus’ Minister-Counsellor in the United States, and in 2006 – 2013 was President’s Aide for International Affairs, as of March 2013 was appointed in charge of the Middle East and South-East Asia, which should be regarded as ebbing of his influence.
Finally, new Deputy Foreign Minister Elena Kupchina on March 6th held regular meetings with foreign partners: the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the French Ambassador to Belarus M. Raineri. In 2006 – 2012 Mrs. Kupchina worked as Belarus’ Ambassador in Hungary and Slovenia (from 2008), and in May 2012 she was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister.
Current staff shifts in the Foreign Ministry confirm our previous hypothesis about President Lukashenko’s sinking confidence of the “Vladimir Makey’s group”, which led the rapprochement between Belarus and the EU and the U.S. in 2008-2010. However, the resumption of a dialogue between Minsk and the West persists, and the Foreign Ministry’s high activity in the European arena proves it. And the existence of the political prisoners remains the major constraining factor, holding back the dialogue.
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.