No Agreement between EU Countries on Belarus

An interesting overview of divergences within the European Union on the Belarusian issue appeared in an article published by Radio Liberty Free Europe.

An interesting overview of divergences within the European Union on the Belarusian issue appeared in an article published by Radio Liberty Free Europe. The Dutch seem to be the most consistent in their demands of specific improvements from the Belarusian government, Poland and the Baltic states are concerned about Russia's influence on Belarus, while Germany and France are driven by Realpolitik considerations:

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhaegen, argued that the reforms undertaken by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka are no more than window dressing.

The Netherlands wants the upcoming EU summit on March 19-20 to set out a list of clear conditions Belarus must meet before it can join the Eastern Partnership initiative, which will be unveiled at the same meeting.

One group of countries, led by Britain, Sweden and Poland, and the Baltic states, is naturally sympathetic to the Dutch concerns. But these countries also believe that the Russian factor means the stakes are high enough for the EU to justify a continued partial suspension of its standards in a bid to engage the Belarusian leadership.

Another camp of mostly Western European countries led by Germany and France is keen to establish the EU as an autonomous regional and global player. These countries have somewhat contradictory motives. Russia is certainly seen as a competitor, but the driving force for most in seeking dialogue with regimes like Minsk is a pragmatic preference for interests over values and a deep-seated skepticism for the utility of sanctions in this context.

Read full text at rferl.org

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