14 October 2019, Monday, 9:55
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What can “cosmetic” liberalization give to Belarus?

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What can “cosmetic” liberalization give to Belarus?

The strategy of the European Union towards Belarus and 12 concrete recommendations on democratization have been shortened to 5 orally. Minsk has answered to it by its unofficial strategy. In the written form Belarusian authorities have particularized three oral promises.

The two-page document was sent to the European structures on November 19. The official Minsk writes that “the possibilities of resuming cooperation with the European Union which have appeared after the decision of the Council of the European Union on October 13 are considered seriously”. Heads of the Foreign Ministries of the EU countries have suspended visa sanctions against Belarusian officials for half a year. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been allowed to go to the EU countries again.

As the BelaPAN agency informs, the Belarusian document specifies today’s “unique possibilities” for improving relations: the decision of foreign ministers have formed a foundation for “resuming full-fledged political dialogue”, and cooperation “on key issues of mutual interest is growing and becoming more and more real”.

Besides, statements of the head of the administration Uladzimir Makej at the Minsk Forum are published. He said about the readiness to discuss problems existing in the relations between Belarus and the EU. Makej promised concrete steps, but he didn’t specify them.

It has turned out that the Belarusian authorities have decided to make three steps in order “to demonstrate seriousness of their intentions to normalize relations with the EU”.

Thus, Minsk confirmed the readiness to discuss in detail recommendations on with the OSCE/ODIHR on improvement of the Electoral Code of Belarus. After publication of the final report of this organisation on the “parliamentary elections”, the Belarusian side is to send an offer for expert cooperation.

Besides, independent newspapers “Narodnaya Volya” and “Nasha Niva” are to receive a possibility to be printed at the territory of the country and will be included into the state system of subscription and distribution.

And the last point denotes that “in the near future Belarus is to make additional steps towards expectations of European partners”.

The BelaPAN informs that the recommendations by the united Europe representatives which have been shortened from 12 to 5 issues include amendment of the Electoral Code and freedom of expression. The short-list has also included creation of conditions for work of political parties in Belarus; overturning articles of the law which allow criminal prosecution for political and public activities, and a moratorium for appearance of political prisoners.

It is worth mentioning that the “road map”, a route for rapprochement and the “homework” for the half a year when sanctions are suspended are created by Minsk itself, independently setting the rules of the game, the BelaPAN informs. Absence of a concrete strategy in relations of Brussels with Belarus demonstrates not just flexibility of European officials, but in fact their being spineless.

A Belarusian political analyst Ales Lahvinets greets the fact of creation of an unofficial strategy of the Belarusian authorities, indicating that Minsk is ready to discuss concrete steps. But this declaration of intentions is not enough, he said.

Europe has already paid attention that an important point is missing, a moratorium on political persecution. Lahvinets noted that an activist of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Alyaksandr Barazenka has spent a month in prison already is it a reaction to the EU recommendations?

The Belarusian answer undoubtedly is to become a foundation of negotiations together with expectations of the European Union. “It is important for a serious negotiation process to start, not to give the Belarusian authorities time for “façade moves” and good intentions statements. Three promises have been done, let’s see how they would be realized,” Lahvinets said.