Opposition May Be the Only Party to Represent Belarus in EURONEST PA

An attempt to influence the Belarusian regime through the Eastern Partnership has failed. At least so far, at least the first attempt of it. Russian newspaper Kommersant reports that the negotiations between a delegation of the European Parliament and the Belarusian officials on Belarus’ participation in the parliamentary assembly of EU and its Eastern neighbours (EURONEST PA) were unproductive.

It is now likely that the Belarusian delegation will be formed from the opposition parties and NGOs, Kommersant quoted MEP Justas Paleckis.

This means that once again the democratic opposition is likely to represent the country at an international forum. It would be virtually the same as if on such forum during the Cold War the USSR would be represented by the Soviet dissidents. The dissidents were brave and dignified individuals but they were neither politically influential nor representative of the whole country.

Belarus has been under authoritarian rule over 15 years. All these years the opposition has practically been deprived of any opportunities to influence on the government’s policies let alone representation in the parliament. The opposition has now practically transformed into a semi-dissident movement. It is able to give a picture of what is going on in Belarus and give advise to the EU in what policy to pursue with Belarus – but these consultations and even some financial and organizational support to Belarusian NGOs can hardly be considered a realistic policy.

It seems that in order to facilitate real change in the country one has to cooperate with the Belarusian authorities and try to influence them. To be exact, one must communicate with president Lukašenka, who is the primary decision maker in the country. As cynical as it sounds – a form of cooperation with the Belarusian government must be developed where officials would be present regardless of the democratic progress in the country. EURONEST PA should become such place.

The officials have refused to form the Belarusian delegation together with the opposition, on a 50/50 representation basis. It is a question whether the European Parliament should have followed the Belarusian officials’ demands and let them have more than just 5 seats in the Belarusian delegation.

Maybe it did not play a significant role at all, as it seems that the political liberalization in Belarus is over anyway, at least till after the presidential elections of 2011, as a political expert quoted by Kommersant said. This sounds very realistic indeed.

Read stories by Kommersant (in Russian), Lenta.ru (in Russian), Deutsche Welle Russian edition; Belorusy i rynok (in Russian), Belorusskie novosti.

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