About us | Contacts | Submissions | News | Events | Law | Economy | Political science | Other domains | Library | Newsletter

May 28, 2018             home page



 Political science



The Eastern Partnership after Vilnius

Kiryl Kascian and Hanna Vasilevich

The recent issue of the journal “New Eastern Europe” (No. 1, 2014) opens with an article entitled “Lessons from Vilnius” (pp. 8-13) by two Lithuanian political analysts – Laurynas Kasčiūnas and Vytautas Keršanskas. The authors focus on the outcomes of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius and argue that this event “must be seen as an opportunity to review the goals of Europe’s policy in the region.” The article’s content, which indeed deserves attention, need not be reproduced here but there are some statements made by the authors that require closer attention.

As the authors argue, so far “the [EaP] policy has been understood as the spread of European values and norms in the neighbourhood (marked in bold by KK and HV). But the cases of Ukraine and Armenia show that competing integration projects could further reduce the EU’s abilities to tie the neighboring states to Europe.” Moreover, “the Vilnius Summit was neither a victory nor a failure for the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy. It is an important milestone because the original mission to give a European perspective to the region has been accomplished.”

These four highlighted statements rather characterize the EU-centric vision of the EaP perspectives, which will be reflected in this text.

Competing Initiatives?

The EU (and its Eastern Partnership Initiative) and the Russian-driven Customs Union are presented as competing integration projects. From the article by Kasčiūnas and Keršanskas, it is not very clear what is actually competing with the Customs Union – the EU itself or its Eastern Partnership Initiative (EU-EaP). Regardless of this unclear formulation, their statement about competitiveness has reasonably and sufficiently been proven by the developments of the situation in Armenia, Moldova, and particularly Ukraine prior to the Vilnius Summit. Apparently, competitiveness denotes a certain symmetry. Nonetheless, the comparison of the EU and the Customs Union models proves to be asymmetrical at least in the third dimension.

First, there is a counterbalance in the EU by at least three countries (Germany, France, and the UK) to prevent domination by one state. In the case of the Customs Union, it is Russia, which in any case would dominate it. Second, while the Russia’s offer implies full and quite comprehensive membership in the Customs Union with the possibility of some influence in the decision-making process, the EU so far has never clearly indicated a membership perspective to at least one of six EaP countries, even though, as Kasčiūnas and Keršanskas rightfully stress, “Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty, which stated that any European state may apply to become a member of the Union, was adopted into the Association Agreement with Moldova.”

Consequently, it implies a third dimension – virtual EU integration vs. real cooperation with Russia. It is often embodied in various opinion push polls conducted throughout the EaP countries on the geopolitical choices of their population between Russia/Customs Union and the EU (like the one by the IISEPS in Belarus). The EU option in these polls is usually referred to as “joining the EU.” However, do such opinion polls matter at all if in their essence they compare a virtual situation with a real one?

This has two outcomes. First, if the country starts a certain integration process, it should be aware of its consequences. With the Customs Union it is clear from the very beginning, while in case of the European integration of the EaP countries the final outcome/benefit of it is still unclear.  Should it indicate membership, it has to be declared at the beginning; otherwise it is a nearly never-ending maze with numerous obstacles.

Second, it is the self-perception of the Customs Union and the EU. The Russian approach can be described as that of “the rich older brother,” as it implies a central Russian role in the design of its integration project and readiness to work here and now. In its turn, the EU approach can be characterized as “the high society club,” which means that in order to get full access to it, a prospective candidate has to reach a certain status first and then the decision on accession can be made. This self-perception of the EU combined with the lack of clear membership perspective for the EaP countries largely complicates what is referred to as “a European perspective to the region.

Failure of a European Perspective?

A European perspective commonly means the rapprochement with the EU, which ultimately should be accomplished by EU membership. However, following the logic of Kasčiūnas and Keršanskas, who argue that Vilnius Summit signified “an important milestone because the original mission to give a European perspective to the region has been accomplished,” it is possible to assume that for the EaP countries the European perspective is measured through their progress towards the Association Agreements with the EU and compliance with the formula “deeper integration – higher conditionality.”

Apparently, it means that the EU prefers to engage with those EaP countries that have achieved certain progress rather than pulling up outsiders. At the same time, the batch of  “leaders” has become limited to three countries at the top – Georgia, Moldova, and still Ukraine. The first two have initiated their Association Agreements with the EU, while Ukraine despite the decision to postpone signing it already has the initiated Agreement. For the remaining three countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – the conclusion of such an agreement in the format proposed by the EU due to different reasons has proven to be not the most attractive option.

However, the frozen conflicts issue needs to be taken into account. First, Georgia and Moldova do not control their entire territories, while their breakaway regions are subject to direct Russian involvement. However, while Georgia in 2008 has received a “vaccination” against Russian integration projects and can likely become the first country to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, the situation of Moldova is more vulnerable. Its regions of Transnistria and Gagauzia declared their “pro-Russian” geopolitical priorities already after the initiation of Moldova-EU Association Agreement in Vilnius and the government in Chisinau has to handle it, since the further rapprochement towards the European perspective could mean an end of Moldova’s territorial integrity and/or its sovereignty.

The situation in Ukraine is currently far from being predictable even in a short-term perspective, but the events around the Euromaidan have proven the EU’s inability to act swiftly and efficiently under the pressure of significant changes in an EaP country. To sum up, while having failed to engage the three countries in its current EaP format, the EU most likely would have difficulties in engaging at least two more. Isn’t it a failure or at least a deadlock for the European Union’s Eastern Partnership within its current framework? The aforementioned conditionality, which serves as a key concept for the EaP combined with the essence of the EU offer and inability to swiftly provide an efficient counterbalance for its EaP partners in case of prompt changes of the situation, have largely contributed to the current EaP outcome.

Is there a durable solution?

It has become obvious, that the EaP in its current shape has failed. At the same time, the development of mutually beneficial relations between the EU on the one hand and the EaP countries on the other is beyond any doubt the issue of common interest. There are a number of reasons for this failure. First, the incentives provided by the EU were at least insufficient both for the EaP states and for their societies. With regard to the former, this refers to the lack of clear membership perspective for the EaP countries. With regard to the latter, it is the issue of the maintenance of the visa-free regime between the EU and the EaP countries, which could have facilitated people-to-people contacts.

Second, the EU proved its inability to make decisions rapidly, aimed at qualitative support of its interests in the EaP countries. It also pertains to the EU’s inability to counterbalance the growing Russian influence in the region.

Third, the EaP itself since its implementation in 2009 has never become a priority of the entire Union and became a focal point only when some of the Member States whose interests lay directly within the EaP area took presidency in the Council of the European Union.

And finally, the most problematic issue derived from the application of the conditionality principle, with the result that the EaP merely resembled a road of just one party towards “a club membership” instead of mutual rapprochement. In other words, it is a partner country that makes efforts to meet the EU standards. Thus, the first and foremost thing to change the negative dynamics is for the EU to reexamine its formal and inflexible approach towards its Eastern neighborhood and after such re-thinking to take efforts to maintain a mutual rapprochement on a durable basis.

This article first appeared in http://belaruspoliticsdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/the-eastern-partnership-after-vilnius/  and is reproduced here with permission.

Keywords: Belarus-EU relations, Belarus-Russia relations, EU Eastern Partnership Initiative, Putin's Russia, Russian foreign policy, Euromaidan, Customs Union, Transnistrian conflict




 Full content of Political science


Eastern Partnership initiative: five year results and future perspectives

The emergence and implementation of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) is linked with the Polish-Swedish proposal within the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), in order to sustain and increase cooperation between the EU and its six eastern neighbours – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In many ways, the ENP has been a subject of heavy criticism due to its framework that brought together a huge range of various countries from Northern Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe. That is why a specification of EU policies towards its eastern neighbours was thought to become a qualitative upgrade of the ENP. The declared goal of the EaP was to bring six participating countries to the creation of a free trade area between them and the EU. Further aims referred to the advancement of cooperation in the fi eld of energy followed by the abolishing of barriers in trade between the participants of the initiative. Finally, the EaP was constructed as a club “that would be loyal to the EU, depend on that community and share the European values”.

more details



Prolonging the Victory

May 9 is a day that elicits very different reactions in the former Soviet states. In Ukraine it has been quietly superseded by May 8 as a day of commemoration for those who died during the Second World War. In Russia, it has become the key event in historical memory for the Putin regime. And in Belarus it remains similarly the identity marker for President Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

more details



Sergey Dolgopolov: Belarus and the EU close on in the economic sphere

Latvia holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2015. One of the priorities of the Latvian Presidency is to support the EU’s active role on the global stage, including the Eastern Partnership region. Within this framework, a key role is attributed to the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit which will take place in Riga on May 21-22, 2015. The Belarusian Review asked Latvian MP Sergey Dolgopolov from the parliamentary group “Concord” (Latvian: Saskaņa) about the Latvian EU Presidency and the role of the Eastern Partnership region in the foreign policy of Latvia.

more details



Ivonka Survilla: mythologized history is the basis for Putin’s neo-Soviet rhetoric

Not denying the sovereignty of the state, the leadership of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church see Belarus and Ukraine as the inalienable parts of the so-called “Russian world”. The Belarusian Review has asked Ivonka Survilla, the President of the BNR Rada, what this rhetoric could mean for Belarus as a state and Belarusians as a nation?”

more details



On the Eve of a New Presidential Election in Belarus

Two recent articles offered very different analyses of the current situation in Belarus. Balazs Jarabik, Visiting Scholar with the Russia and Eurasia Program of the Carnegie Endowment, offered a very optimistic scenario from the standpoint of positive changes, decreasing levels of repressions, and a gradual opening to the West. Anna Maria Dyner, a political scientist with the Polish Institute of International Affairs, is more sanguine, seeing less evidence of change and gloomy prospects of independent survival given events in Ukraine. Both acknowledge the weakness of the opposition and likely victory of incumbent president Aliaksandr Lukashenka in the 2015 presidential elections.

more details



The EU and Belarus: democracy promotion by technocratic means?

Is Belarus an unwavering constant in international relations: a maverick, isolated from the West, and increasingly entangled into the Russian – now Eurasian – sphere of influence? Indeed, on the surface, there seems to be business-as-usual: Lukashenka’s regime remains unchallenged customarily depicted as ‘the last dictatorship in Europe’. Belarus’ relations with the international community and the EU especially, have shown little sign of change since the mid-1990s, and at best could be described as spasmodic.

more details



End of an Era in 2015?

The next presidential election in Belarus has been scheduled to take place in November 2015, but the date can be changed. The current President Aliaksandr Lukashenka was first elected in 1994, and has continued to stay in power for the past 20 years with all subsequent elections and referenda being neither free nor fair, as judged by independent international observers.

more details



Talks on Ukraine in Minsk: does Belarus start its way out of self-isolation?

Amidst the Ukrainian crisis Belarus has been more active than ever since the beginning of 90s. At first sight it appears that the balancing act of Belarus regarding Russia’s agression against Ukraine is a right one and corresponds to the long-term national interests. Among other things such approach creates favorable conditions to normalize relations with the United States and European Union. Yet, in order to count on real change in the international standing of Belarus, President Aliaksandr Lukashenka needs to make concrete steps inside Belarus.

more details



Leanid Lyč: people cannot create anything original without their national language

Language policies in Belarus, the Belarusian language role in society and the status of Russian as the official language in Belarus still produce much discussion in Belarus. Today these are the topics for our interview with Professor Dr. Leanid Lyč, author of numerous monographs on the history of Belarusian culture, language policies and ethnic relations in Belarus.

more details



The Nation-Building in Belarus and Ukraine under Russian Aggression

Disintegration of the USSR, two Russian-Chechen wars and the Russian-Georgian war, the fall of international prestige, strengthening of the independence of the post-Soviet republics and, as a consequence, a significant loss of Russian influence in these countries have led Russian leadership to the demonstration of force, which it has decided to apply to their nearest neighbors, the Ukrainians. This has left former socialist countries in Europe, subject to Russia, which now acts as a policeman in the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States to warn “its area of interests”.

more details



Belarus and the 2015 Presidential Elections

As Belarus prepares for another presidential election in 2015, one can forgive some leaders of the opposition for adopting a cynical attitude toward the event. Let us recall some facts.

more details



Belarus and the United Nations

Thanks to CNN, there is probably no one in the world today that has not heard of the United Nations. There are crises all around the globe and the name of the organization is associated with most of them: the Arab-Israeli conflict, Cambodia, the unraveling of the communist world, Iraq, the Balkans, Somalia… Only a year ago, the United Nations was involved in getting Iraq out of Kuwait, and the conflict is not over yet. The Balkan situation is fraught with danger and is so confused that the United Nations seems helpless in getting it under control. And yet the United Nations is the best and only hope for the weaker nations’ survival. Its self-determination and human rights declarations have become the driving forces reshaping today’s world.

more details



Fr. Alexander Nadson: Belarusians should go to God their own way and in their own language

Recently, much has been told about the Russian Orthodox Church as one of the main promoters of the so-called "Russian World" (Russkiy mir) concept, which among other countries includes Belarus. The consequences of this sort of “political Orthodoxy“ and the role of the Belarusian Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church in Belarus are being discussed with Fr. Alexander Nadson, the Apostolic Visitor for Belarusian Greek Catholic faithful abroad.

more details



Belarusian language promotion is impossible without the government’s support

Strengthening of the Belarusian language status in Belarus is not an easy issue, since a whole array of political, legal, economic, socio-cultural and socio-psychological factors come into play whenever attempts are made, whether by governments, non-governmental organizations, social movements or other actors, to change established patterns of language use. Language regime change is not simply a matter of adopting new language legislation and government regulations, or funding certain language promotion initiatives; in a context where there is no general consensus on the very need for change, it also involves a lengthy process of changing a society’s linguistic culture - influencing public perceptions, predispositions and attitudes, which in turn may only gradually lead to widespread changes in actual linguistic behavior.

more details



Belarus-EU dialogue: Towards more pragmatism?

The announcement to start visa liberalization dialogue with the EU was the most important result of the 2013 Eastern Partnership Summit for Belarus. This initiative could be seen as a pragmatic attempt to rebalance Belarus’ alliance choices under a narrowing scope of opportunities.

more details



The Return of the Union Treaty

Post-Soviet integrative projects have been receiving less attention, especially those concerning economy and secu­rity, against the backdrop of the events in Ukraine. For the period that the mass protests, which commenced following the refusal of the Yanukovych government to complete the association deal with the EU, turned into the civil confronta­tion and disintegration of Ukraine, post-Soviet cooperation has been rapidly changing. The signing of the Treaty on Eura­sian Economic Union on May 29 is substantial in this respect.

more details



Will Ministry of Foreign Affairs defend national interests of Belarus?

The Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, held an event on April 22, 2014, with a direct and somewhat ominous title – "Belarus after Ukraine". Belarus does not have a full-fledged diplomatic representation in the United States. At the demand of the Belarusian authorities both governments recalled their ambassadors in 2008 and downsized their staff to five diplomats. Since then functions of the Embassy of Belarus in Washington have been narrowed to the diplomatic protocol and mere physical representation.

more details



Stefan Wolff: the EU and Russian geopolitical options are becoming mutually exclusive

Following the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula Belarus has become the only Eastern Partnership country free from any interethnic or territorial conflict. At the same time, among all six EaP countries Belarus could be characterized by the lowest level of engagement with EU and by the highest degree of integration with Russia. Belarusian Review has asked professor Stefan Wolff to assess perspectives of the post-Crimean developments in the region.

more details



Nation and Freedom

Who is to blame of global moral crisis, injustice, poverty, wars, violations of rights and freedoms - liberal democrats, ideas of multi-polar world, imperial ambitions, religion, double standards? It is obvious that humanity has lost the common goals and violates the principles and criteria for the achievement of these goals. Instead of a new round of the Cold War and real wars, the signs of which are becoming more visible, mankind would have to agree on new principles of existence and cooperation to establish peace and order in the world, on important joint actions against poverty, diseases and natural disasters.

more details



Belarus' Unbalanced Bilingualism

In this text I look at bilingualism in Belarus in the sense of the social distribution of language proficiency and language use. In most officially bilingual or multilingual polities, the population is characterized by significant ethnolinguistic diversity, usually with a significant territorial-administrative dimension. What is striking about Belarus, particularly in the context of the other post-Soviet states, is that the population is quite homogeneous in terms of ethno-national identity. If “Belarusian” is understood as primarily an ethnic, rather than civic identity, this would in fact make Belarus one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the post-Soviet region.

more details



Belarus and the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

There has been some discussion of late of impact on Belarus of the Russian annexation of Crimea. Some observers were encouraged by what they saw as the independent stance of Belarus and its refusal to come forth with immediate recognition of the new status of the peninsula and the city of Sevastopol. Such hopes have now been dashed by the Belarusian president.

more details



Love Enforcement or Why Eastern Partnership Initiative Needs an Update

Neither the EU, nor Russia are prepared to deal with a strong, independent, and powerful Ukraine. Their efforts are different, but one element which they have  in common, is that  both sides try to enforce their stance by all possible means. Such a policy looks like love enforcement; unnatural and destructive.

more details



The Eastern Partnership after Vilnius

The recent issue of the journal “New Eastern Europe” (No. 1, 2014) opens with an article entitled “Lessons from Vilnius” (pp. 8-13) by two Lithuanian political analysts – Laurynas Kasčiūnas and Vytautas Keršanskas. The authors focus on the outcomes of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius and argue that this event “must be seen as an opportunity to review the goals of Europe’s policy in the region.” The article’s content, which indeed deserves attention, need not be reproduced here but there are some statements made by the authors that require closer attention.

more details



Official bilingualism in Belarus falls far short of functional equality for Belarusian and Russian

The term “bilingualism” has two quite distinct meanings, and I think it’s important to bear this in mind when discussing the language situation in Belarus. First, there is what is  called “official bilingualism” or “state bilingualism,” which refers to a specific type of state language management policy regulating the use of two languages in the public sphere, whether at the national or regional level. In addition, the term bilingualism can refer simply to the use of two languages in the linguistic repertoires of individuals or social groups, which may in fact be largely independent of the language policies pursued by the state.

more details



Belarus: a second-tier partner of the EU?

With regard to the region Belarus belongs to, the last months of  2013 were dominated by the third Eastern Partnership summit that took place on November 28-29 in Vilnius. This event was thought to become a determining to confirm “progress in political association and economic integration with Eastern Partnership countries by finalizing association agreements including the establishment of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area”. Indeed, it was initially expected that the highlight of the summit would be signing of the association agreement with Ukraine. In case of  Armenia, Georgia and Moldova it was expected that these countries would initiate such agreements. So, the planned or actual existence of the association agreements were seen as a sort of pale that marks progress in the EU relations with the countries of the Eastern Partnership initiative. Accordingly, Belarus and Azerbaijan were located beyond this pale.

more details



Belarus and visa liberalization with the EU

The Third Eastern Partnership summit was held in Vilnius on November 28-29, 2013. In the context of relations between Belarus and the European Union as the main result of the summit one may consider the declaration of Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei on the country's readiness to begin negotiations on simplifying the visa regime with countries of the European Union. Belarusian Review asked the well-known Belarusian political analyst Pavel Usov to comment on these declarations of the Belarusian authorities.

more details



Engagement with Belarus and the Lukashenka Factor

The Jamestown Foundation panel on engagement with Belarus, held in Washington, D.C., last October, raises a number of questions that focus on US and European attitudes to Belarusian president, Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Aside from one’s attitude to the policy of sanctions against the country’s leaders or the predatory attitude of the Russian leadership under Vladimir Putin, it is worthwhile to focus on more basic questions concerning Belarusian identity and historical past.

more details



It is no time for national interests: the Jamestown Foundation defends dictatorial Lukashenka

The Jamestown Foundation located in Washington, DC, held a panel on October 28, 2013, “Engaging Belarus: A Fresh Perspective”. It turned out to be a special event. This article briefly outlines remarks by the panelists and offers some observations regarding the course of the conversation. Names of Grigory Ioffe and Vladimir Socor in the panel indicated that the discussion will be critical rather of the Western approaches towards Belarus than of Lukashenka’s authoritarian practices.

more details



Eastern Partnership's Bilateral "Multilateralism"

Eastern Partnership initiative (EPI) is facing its first major revision. Amid crisis in relations with Ukraine, and Armenia’s turn to the Customs Union, the very core of the EPI, its multilateral dimension, fell victim of the EU’s policy of uncertainty.

more details



Ukraine: between "High Society" EU and "Elder Brother" Russia

Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU is being interpreted as a geopolitical and civilizational choice. It is likely that such wording has somewhat promotional connotation produced by Ukrainian political elites and aimed both at gaining support among domestic and international audiences. The former is mobilized by the attractiveness of Europe. The latter is associated with a declared “ultimate choice” of development path by the biggest purely European country which thereby is said to get rid of its reputation of being a subject of potential “vulnerable” political fluctuations determined by the country’s location between the EU and Russia.

more details



West-Rus'ism and the politics of memory in today's Belarus

Does politics of memory exist in Belarus? On one hand, it is rather difficult to call the political activity exhibited by various government organs in the field of past memory an actual ”politics of memory” in the western sense. First of all, because the authority does not use this concept to actualize these or other actions. Yet, when we turn our attention to the practical side of actions, they do have all the features of active “politics of memory”.

more details



Curt Woolhiser: A common misconception among foreigners traveling to Belarus is they don’t even need to learn any Belarusian

Foreigners largely perceive Belarus as a part of the russophone world while Belarusian, the country’s indigenous language, as well as general linguistic situation in the country remain often unknown for them. Belarusian Review asked Curt Woolhiser, a famous expert in Slavic languages from the Brandeis University, how he as a foreigner explains to other foreigners the bilingual situation in Belarus?

more details



Tackling Obstacles of Eastern Partnership

In Prague in 2009, many substantial issues were related to the launch of the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) program. How to initiate a flagship initiative that would consolidate EU’s presence in the post-Soviet space when all other major actors, including US, China, Russia, and leading regional actors had already developed their strategies vis-à-vis the region, without actually promising the EU membership for the aspiring states in the East. How to deal with the turn-democratic Georgia and Ukraine in the aftermath of the respective electoral revolutions. How to invite Belarus for participation in the new program but at the same time ward it off from the EU whose values are incompatible with the authoritarian practices of the Belarusian leadership. Five years later, EaP faces its first milestone when after the long-delayed progress the association package is about to be signed with Ukraine. It is important, thus, to examine the key program’s objectives to understand what it has transformed into and what comes next.

more details



Pavel Usov: Lukashenka is a rogue in political relations with the EU

Vilnius is to hold in November of 2013 the next, third summit of the Eastern Partnership. Probably throughout the existence of this project Belarus has been its outsider, and its relations with the European Union may be defined as ”cold peace,” —  notwithstanding the enormous potential. The quarterly Belarusian Review asked the well-known Belarusian political analyst Pavel Usov to comment on Belarus’ relations with the European Union in the context of the scheduled summit and on its possible results

more details



On the current “West-Russian” ideology in Belarus

Since the middle of 1990s the “Renewal” of the West-Russian historiography school and ideological trend in Belarus became a specific phenomenon in “our” part of Europe. Similar “hybrid” ideologies, typical for nations of Eastern and Central Europe in most cases ceased to exist or were fully transformed at the end of the 19th, or already in the 20th century.

more details



A nation can fulfill itself only as a nation state

My assignment to the post of Belarus’ representative to the UN in 1990 did not present for me a planned turn of fate. On the contrary, it was a complete surprise. At that time Soviet society began experiencing processes of democratization. Belarus witnessed the awakening of new intellectual forces, and the appearance of new civic organizations. As director of the State TV and Radio Company, I considered it my duty to provide information about these processes and discussions in our programs. All this activity elicited serious concerns from the ideological leaders. In their opinion, Zianon Paźniak should not have been allowed to speak; in general, we should not  have been talking about  events  that might protrude from the riverbed of Soviet everyday life.

more details



On the official bilingualism in Belarus

Official bilingualism (or multilingualism) is a phenomenon specific not only to Belarus. Its version in a regional sense - has been in use for some time in several countries, those with multi-ethnic populations. In the vast post-Soviet Eurasia, we tend to encounter a kind of official multilingualism, historically based on the inter-ethnic reality of the former Soviet Union. On the paper the Soviet Union proclaimed the equality of all nations and peoples. However, there was only one official state-wide language: Russian. Non-Russian languages were mostly treated as a tool to foster the Soviet ideology or in certain cases just as local folklore phenomena

more details



From political struggle to civil work: Belarusian democratic movement at the moment

It’s a snowy night in Minsk in mid-February and I am walking and talking with Ale? Krot, one of the activists of the non-governmental organization Student Council. The situation looks pretty bleak from abroad, but I want his opinion on the current situation in the Belarusian democratic movement – the local activist view from within. He doesn’t dissuade the obvious: “Not much is happening right now. It’s quiet. The peak of activity is around presidential election time.” And right now Belarus is in the middle of the election cycle.

more details



No Easy Way Forward: a personal note on Poland's Belarusian minority

According to the 2002 census in Poland, which inquired about ethnic afilliation and language spoken at home for the first time in post-war Poland, some 47,600 people declared their Belarusian ethnicity. The overwhelmingmajority of Poland’s Belarusians (97%) lived in 2002 in Podlachian Province, in the north-easternpart of the country. Another census, held in Poland in 2011, attested that there were 47,000 Belarusians in the country. The drop in their number over the past nine years was rather insignificant and amounted to 1.2% nationwide. However, the number of Belarusians in their ethnic area, i.e. Podlachian Province, decreased by 17.4% – from 46,400 in 2002 to 38,300 in 2011. The decline in the number of Belarusians in Podlachian Province is especially puzzling if we take into account that the number of Ukrainians in the same region increased by 57% – from 1,400 in 2002 to 2,200 in 2011. What were the reasons behind this dramatic Belarusian regression?

more details



Grigory Ioffe’s misunderstood Belarus

Recently Professor Grigory Ioffe along with the Jamestown Foundation president Glen E. Howard and two more influential US political scientists, Vladimir Socor and Janusz Bugajski, participated in a meeting with the Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka. The very fact of this event has focused attention on the state of analyses of Belarus’ political and social situation produced by western experts. Recalling that for Ioffe it was not the first meeting with Lukashenka, the question is whether his regular expertise at the EDM or elsewhere could really qualitatively influence the coverage and analysis of Belarus-related events in the West? In terms of Ioffe’s works it may be rephrased as whether Ioffe’s viewpoint would be able to contribute to understanding Belarus in the West?

more details



Uladzimir Baradach: Returning our people to historical values

Analyzing the activities of various oppositional political forces in Belarus  is not likely to produce much optimism concerning their ability to win over  the potential of protesting electorate. In his interview for the Belarusian Review Uladzimir Baradach,  chairman of the Organizing Committee of the "Council for National Revival," expresses his own view on the present situation in Belarus.

more details



Understanding Kalinoŭski

Today there are many disputes concerning the person of Kastuś Kalinoŭski. Intelectuals engaged in the national discourse  are disturbed by the fact that  some ”court historians” do not consider the leader  of the 1863 anti-tsarist uprising in Belarus  a  national hero. However, it is not sufficient to point out the absurd views on Belarusian history, held by persons strongly pro-Russian. It is important that Belarusians themselves understand Kalino?ski. And to understand him means to understand 19th century Belarus’ history, i.e. becoming a patriot of Belarus. Yet, in order to understand him and his era, one has to look at that distant past through our hero’s eyes.

more details



Minsk-Tbilisi: Reciprocal Diplomatic Assistance

Belarus’ foreign affairs chief Uladzimir Makei had taken part in the second foreign ministers’ meeting of the informal Eastern Partnership dialogue in Tbilisi. The meeting, which among others bade welcome to high-level EU officials Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, and Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid, was intended to serve as one of preparatory moves ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit scheduled to take place in Vilnius in November of this year.

more details



David Marples on political scientists’ meeting with Lukashenka: Analysts cannot be advocates

The recent meeting of Aliaksandr Lukashenka and a group of US political scientists has triggered controversial reactions both in Belarus and abroad.  David Marples, one of the best known Western experts on Belarus, offers his vision of the situation in an interview with Pavol Demeš, a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s office in Bratislava.

more details



Belarusian Minority in Poland: what kind does official Minsk need?

The recent  refusals to issue entry visas to Belarus to active public figures of Poland’s Belarusian minority - Alena Hlahoŭskaja and Jaŭhien Vapa - are of a seemingly trivial significance, since every country has the right to independently decide, who may enter its territory. However, in the broader context of the policies of Belarusian authorities concerning  the compatriots abroad, and the situation of the Belarusian minority in Poland, these refusals are of essential importance.

more details



The vicious circle of radicalism: on persecution of historical publications in Belarus

Recent events about the historical publication ARCHE, and also about Hrodnazna?stva, actually reflect the fight between  two views - what kind of country should Belarus be? Intellectuals, clustered in non-governmental civic structures, present a European Belarus, while the head of state and his entourage see Belarus as a Eurasian country.

more details



Misha's Dream: Do Georgian Elections Really Change It All?

The newly elected Georgian parliament convened for its first session on 21 October. Thus, the majority in the parliament that was won by the Georgian Dream (GD) coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, has been legitimised into power. A transition period is now beginning, and it will last until 2013, when constitutional amendments that cede most of the presidential powers to the prime minister will enter into force. At that time, incumbent president Mikheil Saakashvili will step down, having served two terms in office. This transition promises to be complicated.

more details



Belarus: Beginnings of Renaissance

Prior to being nominated by President George H. W. Bush in early 1992 as the first U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Belarus, I had several times been in what by then was the former Soviet Union. My first exposure to the so-called Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic occurred in June, 1972, when my family and I drove to Moscow from our previous assignment in Germany. We passed through the breadth of Belarus from Brest in the west to Orsha in the east.  At that time the Brest-Minsk-Orsha-Moscow highway was one of the few roads from western Europe open to travel by foreigners.

more details



Armenia–Azerbaijan conflict: Autumn Aggravation

The unexpected August continuation of six years old events caused a genuine cyber war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Let us look at everything in proper sequence.

more details



Poles in Belarus: the story of an unnecessary conflict

The 4th Congress of Polish Diaspora held in Pultusk on August 24-26, 2012, adopted a resolution expressing its “strong protest against violation of human rights and discrimination of the Union of Poles in Belarus”. This statement implies that the rights of Belarusian Poles are being violated which results in discrimination of this group on ground of ethnicity. But is this statement mature enough to produce such apparently far-reaching conclusions?

more details



Uladzimir Baradač: In Belarus there Exists Enormous Potential for Protest

The recent events in Belarus and its surrounding area result in many varied, often contradictory assessments.  In his interview with Belarusian Review, Uladzimir Baradač, chairman of the organizational committee of the ”Council for National Revival”, describes his view on the current situation in Belarus and further development of events in the country.

more details



Lukashenka needs a soldier not a diplomat

Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s decision to appoint Uladzimir Makei Minister of Foreign Affairs marks a change in Minsk’s general foreign policy strategy in the international arena, particularly regarding the West. Despite Makei’s diplomatic education and experience, he is first and foremost an administrator and a reliable executor of Lukashenka’s orders, a personality that triggered expansion of administrative and political control in Belarus. There is nothing special about it; otherwise he could not have survived in the “political Olympus” of Belarus.

more details



Belarus - Georgia: Unexpected Allies

Belarus and Georgia are scarcely ever placed into one basket for analysis. It is rather Belarus' neighbour Ukraine that has been consistently paired up with Georgia in post-Soviet space politics. First wave of colour revolutions that hit the region and swimmingly overthrown corrupt regimes; knife-edge relations with Russia; to name just a few domains where Kiev and Tbilisi were for the most times referred to cheek by jowl. To be sure, Belarus is no stranger when it comes to hurdle in relations with Russia, however, this is not the only resemblance in Belarus-Georgia nexus which steadily develops.

more details



Stefan Liebich: Opening Gates for Belarusians from the German Side Would Help Enormously

The Belarus-EU relations reached their lowest point ever by the end of February 2012, when the EU countries  have recalled their ambassadors from Minsk. The very development of this situation made it clear that the previous EU strategy towards Belarus has failed and requires serious reframing. The fact is that the EU has to deal with an authoritarian regime led by Lukašenka who despite considerable economic hardships in the country still enjoys a high degree of popularity among Belarus’ citizens. Expanding the black lists of Belarus’ officials and tycoons banned from entering the EU, targeted economic sanctions and future perspectives of the Belarus-EU dialogue elicited different opinions both within the Belarusian society and among foreign politicians and analysts. Belarusian Review asked Stefan Liebich who represents  the  Left Party (Die Linke) in the German Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs to provide his view on the current developments of Belarus-EU relations and Germany’s role in it.

more details



Church and Politics in Belarus

One of more widespread statements by representatives of both the Orthodox as well as the Catholic churches is the following: "church is beyond politics and is not engaged in politics.” Of course, this attitude is by far not always realized in practice.  Yet, even if the Church always and everywhere follows this given principle, it does not at all mean that the ruling elite will stop using the Church for political objectives; especially, if the Church happens to exist in conditions of an authoritarian regime, where any social institution may function only when it submits, or in the best case scenario, does not oppose the interests of the ruling power.   Essentially, even the Church’s silence concerning politically significant issues or events is politics. If there are political prisoners in a country,  human rights are violated, and the Church is protected by its silence —  that means that it, despite its own statements on non-intervention in politics, remains lenient toward these violations and is already involved in politics.

more details



Belarus in the Post-Soviet Collective Security System

The sudden demise of the Soviet Union presented a problem in terms of security provision for the the newly independent states. For decades, a closely integrated system of security had been constructed in the Union especially influenced by the developments of the Cold War and mostly targeted against the West. However, with the end of the confrontation in 1989 and the subsequent implosion of the Union in 1991 some important aspects of  security have changed. Thus, states like Belarus and the Central Asian states not to mention those in the Caucasus, where by the early 1990s violent conflicts were underway, found themselves dealing with the difficult task of providing for their own security without proper political and military structures in place.

more details



Alaksandr Łahviniec: the Kremlin needs a manageable and predictable client in Belarus

The results of the presidential elections in Russia were more than predictable. Vladimir Putin’s return to the president office after four years was rather a sort of bureaucratic formality. From now on, the most influential Russian politician during Dmitry Medvedev’s office term becomes the old-new president of Russia.

more details



Pavel Usov: if the EAU is established, Belarus for at least a few more years will be deprived of any opportunity to become a democratic European state

Russia’s presidential elections in any case affect Belarusian state and society. Close economic and political ties between two countries resemble a sort of misalliance. Recently we can observe the growing Russia’s influence in Belarus both politically (considering strained relations of Belarus with the West) and economically (ever increasing and direct expansion of the Russian business in Belarus). Even though the results of the Russian elections are quite predictable, within the contexts of the Vladimir Putin’s electoral rhetoric one can say that the Kremlin will adopt the course on further facilitation of the integration on the post-Soviet area. Implementation of such policies directly concerns Belarus and its interests.

more details



Eastern Partnership deadlock: is there a solution?

The second EaP summit was to take place in a situation in which, on one hand the EaP had never become a priority for the EU politics, and on the other hand, we could still hardly speak about a common EU Foreign policy. The EaP was fostered by those countries whose geopolitical interests lay with the EaP area whereas the EU countries with different strategic priorities were not willing to equally contribute to the EaP development.

more details



Czech-Belarusian relations: last 20 years

20 years after the Velvet Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union have been characterized by significant changes in the regions of Central and Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic separated from Slovakia, changing from the former Soviet ally Czechoslovakia into an independent country with its own interests. In 2004 it became a member of the European Union. As for Belarus, though it was one of the USSR’s most developed republics, in the beginning of its independence it underwent economic shock therapy, which negatively affected most of the country’s population. Thus, the beginning of the 1990s in Belarus was characterised by the transformation to democracy under harsh economic challenges. Along with these difficulties Belarus had to maintain its relations with the world.

more details



The Image of Belarus and the Belarusian People in Presidential Speeches

In Belarus, the beginning of the 2000s was a period in which the need to define national identity and to understand who we, the Belarusian people are, was acknowledged. The rather late date during which these issues were addressed can be explained by the fact that the period from 1994 was completely occupied with solving economic problems and developing, and even establishing, an independent (in its institutional sense) state.

more details



No Money – No Dictator? Experts predict the “last battle” of “the last dictator in Europe”

This slogan wasn’t mentioned at the presentation of results for the “Democratic Change in Belarus: A Framework for Action” project, but it is the leading idea articulated by think tank experts in the recent publication. Damon Wilson (Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council), Anders Aslund (Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute), Peter Doran (Center for European Policy Analysis), David J. Kramer (Executive Director of Freedom House) and other experts formed a working group united by the thought that at the moment Lukashenka is as weak as he has ever been. They believe that the Western world can`t miss the chance to help him be gone away from the stage.

more details



Zachar Šybieka: The Present Neglected State of the Belarusian Language — a Strong Danger Signal for the Belarusian Nation

Recently the issue of national identity has been increasingly discussed in the Belarusian society, while Belarus’ authorities speak a lot about the the need to increase the number of foreign tourists in Belarus.  These two issues are interconnected, because precisely what is being shown to foreigners from our country’s historical legacy, and how it is  being shown,  forms their perception of Belarus. What should the  role of  language be for Belarusians’  self-identification and  for the external presentation of  Belarus, and how generally  should  Belarus be  introduced to foreign tourists? Professor Zachar Šybieka, a well-known historian and expert urbanist expresses his ideas in this interview.

more details



David Marples: I believe there is significant support within the EU for regarding Belarus as part of the Russian “sphere of interest.”

Belarusian studies in the West have always remained in the shadow of Russian, Polish or Ukrainian studies. That is why the number of Belarus-related books and articles lags far behind those on the neighbouring countries. Non-surprisingly, many western scholars and analysts have somewhat stereotypical view on Belarus’ past and often consider the present Belarusian state as being within the Russian sphere of interest. We asked a prominent Canadian historian David R. Marples, the author of Belarus: a Denationalized Nation, to make a historical overview and analyse the contemporary situation with the Belarusian studies in the North America as well as to express his opinion on the role that Belarusian language should play in the Belarus-related studies.

more details



Anatol Taras: I am a Belarusian and Feel It with My Heart

The biography of Anatol Taras, the well-known Belarusian writer and publisher of many books dealing with Belarusians’ historical roots and their  current national consciousness is  many-sided. However, he has arrived at his present occupation gradually. What caused Anatol Taras to start spreading historical knowledge about Belarus and why books published by him appear mostly in Russian?

more details



Belarus-Kazakhstan Cooperation Perspectives

Both Kazakhstan and Belarus recently went through the period of presidential elections. In both countries, the incumbent presidents Lukashenka and Nazarbayev predictably won the elections with high turnovers and voting results according to official statistics; in both countries opposition and international observers expressed concerns about election results and documented numerous violations. The two countries preserve rather good relations between each other, both on bilateral level and within the international organizations, such as Collective Security Treaty Organization and Customs Union.

more details



Does Poland really know Belarus?

Jarosław Kaczyński’s critique of current Polish policy toward Belarus reveals how outmoded thinking is damaging Belarusian civil society.

more details



Diplomacy of the Cold War Era: the Fate of One Man

Josef Orel is a man with the heavy fate who had an occasion to be a Czechoslovak diplomat in Africa during the Cold War times. In fact, he was one of the pioneers who established relations between Central European and African countries. Unfortunately, the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia at those times did not give him a possibility to throw himself into the maintenance of the relations between two continents. He as well as his family became victims of the system which brutally oppressed them and their children. However, despite all the ordeals, Josef Orel is full of vitality and self-reliance. In spite of his age of 74, he continuous to work as translator and feels constant support from his wife which who is standing right beside him for more than 50 years.

more details



Georgian nationalism and prejudices

Ethnocentrism is quite obvious among Georgians. Moreover, Georgian ethnocentrism has a rather individual, although not a very unique form. A Georgian may calmly accept the fact that other nations are richer, more hardworking and even smarter. However, a Georgian will always think that all these successful nations lack something very important, the so-called ‘zest’ or the essential understanding of life.

more details


Library: recent


2017-02-15 23:57:45

Belarusian Review, Special Jewish Issue, 2016

format: .pdf

2015-01-20 18:10:50

Крывія, №34-35, сьнежань 2014

format: .pdf





2017-01-16 | The Photograph

2016-05-08 | The attitude toward Holocaust in the former Soviet Union and in modern Belarus

2016-04-25 | Chernobyl: A Personal Memoir

2015-12-10 | Chernobyl and Belarus



2015-12-06 | Predictable election in the shadow of the Nobel Prize

2015-05-15 | Censorship as a research subject and as a means of understanding postwar Soviet Belarus

2015-02-02 | Aleś Kraŭcevič: we should be friends with Russia through the border fence

2015-01-11 | Jewish Soldiers in World War II



2015-03-02 | Alexander Osipov: Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine still benefit from the Soviet system of diversity governance

2013-06-11 | Alena Makoŭskaja: Belarusians living abroad are strongest advocates of Belarus and its culture

2013-05-31 | Belarusian language banned in the Kontinental Hockey League

2013-05-26 | The 1995 Referendum on national symbols and official languages was not legitimate



2015-11-30 | Belarus’ Economic Slump

2014-09-21 | Georgian Agriculture: Effects of Association with the EU

2014-06-05 | Belarus: impact of the conflict in Ukraine

2013-08-24 | David Marples: Belarus needs to distinguish itself from Russia and Russian policies

Political science


2015-10-02 | Eastern Partnership initiative: five year results and future perspectives

2015-05-25 | Prolonging the Victory

2015-03-19 | Sergey Dolgopolov: Belarus and the EU close on in the economic sphere

2015-01-19 | Ivonka Survilla: mythologized history is the basis for Putin’s neo-Soviet rhetoric

Other domains


2015-11-23 | Searching for Belarusianness in the southern Pskov region

2015-11-12 | The Space: Between Silesia and Podlasie

2015-09-14 | The Cookbook as Political Statement: A Note on Two Belarusian Examples

2015-06-06 | Again about Skaryna in Padua: Attendees

   The_Point © 2007-2018. All rights reserved   




created by Webrycy studio