14 April 2016
On 29 March, President Alexander Lukashenka held a meeting dedicated to the accession of Belarus to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Belarus has enjoyed observer status in the organisation since 1993, and every few years proclaims it will speed up the accession process.
However, as Belarus’s economic reforms falter, a final deal remains elusive. The March meeting was intended...
30 March 2016
On 22-23 March, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski visited Belarus, as he explained, to normalise relations "without any pre-conditions". Prior to Waszczykowski's visit, Alexander Lukashenka had not yet confirmed whether he would meet with the Polish minister.
Despite the friendly atmosphere, the visit showed that the two countries still disagree on...
21 March 2016
On 10 March 2016, Minsk hosted an international conference titled The Death Penalty: Transcending the Divide.
According to Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, a moratorium on the death penalty would send a positive signal for relations between Belarus and the EU and improve the international image of Belarus.
The existence of the death penalty has...
10 March 2016
Belarus and Sweden are steadily improving their relations, harshly damaged by a diplomatic row in 2012. Sweden has patiently worked on reestablishing its diplomatic presence in Minsk. Belarus is in no hurry to reciprocate.
Earlier this year a delegation of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) had talks in Belarus' Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Should...
07 March 2016
On 11 October 2015 it was officially revealed that Alexander Lukashenka had won his fifth presidential election. Five months post-election it appears obvious that it is set to be his most difficult term in office yet.
Despite a very vague election manifesto, the Belarusian state leader has already managed to break some of his promises. For instance, the platform promised that the...
25 February 2016
Federika Mogherini, the EU's chief diplomat, has denied that Brussels lifted sanctions against Belarus on geopolitical grounds. Anonymously, EU officials, on the contrary, have confirmed that the decision embodied the victory of pragmatism in Brussels.
For the EU, democracy in Belarus has become less important than maintaining sustainable relations with the country. On the other...
19 February 2016
Last month, Alexander Lukashenka pardoned six top officials charged with corruption. Not only that – he appointed them to manage unprofitable state-owned enterprises.
The decision reflects a haphazard approach to fighting corruption. Belarus ranked 107 out of 168 countries in a recent report by Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation that monitors corporate and...
- 17 February 2016
09 February 2016
No economic reforms will be carried out in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka announced in his 26 January address to the government.
This was the fourth time since the October 2015 presidential election that the President confirm his desire to keep the existing state-dominated economic system.
Lukashenka's statements suggest an ongoing struggle within the political elite over the...
02 February 2016
Several months after the October presidential elections in Belarus, conservative and Kremlin-affiliated Russian media and commentators have again turned their attention to Belarus.
They warn of an alleged rise in "Russophobia" in Belarus, and criticise the West for plotting to tear the country away from Russia. The last such attack took place in...
28 January 2016
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, coupled with Russia's economic decline, has facilitated the separation of Belarusian national identity from all things Russian. The government has made an effort to differentiate Belarus's interests from those of the Kremlin and to wean the country off Russia's military and economic support.
Some new members of the political elite have even...
25 January 2016
Following the full-scale fragmentation after the 2015 presidential election campaign, the Belarusian opposition is starting to unite.
Tatsiana Karatkevich, currently quite popular in polls, is rounding up her supporters to enter the 2016 parliamentary elections. Centre-right parties have formed a coalition. Street protests leader Mikola Statkevich is trying to gather other opposition...