Global Dialogue on Integration, Poverty in the EU - Belarus State TV Digest

Over the last week state TV channel 1 reported on the top-level meetings of the member states of the Eurasian Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which recently took place in Minsk. Alexander Lukashenka urged Tbilisi to return to the CIS and participate in the integration processes in the post-Soviet space.

Belarusian state journalists also covered the forum of youth movement which celebrated its 95th anniversary. During the event the head of state spoke at length about patriotism. The Belarusian students praised the idea of youth organisations and employment opportunities in Belarus.

Domestic Affairs

Minsk became a centre for a global dialogue on integration.  Over the last week Minsk was in the spotlight of many commentators. The top-level meetings of presidents of the Eurasian Union member states and the Commonwealth of Independent States took place in Minsk. Politicians conducted a global dialogue about integration, as state TV noted.

Belarusian journalists pointed out the symbolic meaning of place of the meetings - the newly constructed Palace of Independence. During the Belarusian presidency in the organisation, a great deal of work was reportedly done.

The integration processes in the post-Soviet sphere are tempting more statesThe state media stated that more and more countries are interested in joining the Eurasian Union and the Customs Union. Today the authorities of countries such as Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine are considering integration in the post-Soviet space. Even Turkey, a serious economic partner of the EU, would be keen on joining the integrating countries.

Lukashenka drew attention to Georgia’s return to the CIS. He pointed out that both in Georgian society and the government there is a desire to rejoin the Commonwealth. The Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukovich, also said that the doors to the CIS will always remain open to Georgians. Journalists recalled that the idea of Georgia’s return was the initiative of Lukashenka and found more and more supporters over the days of their gathering.

Belarusian youth should be patriotic. The head of state with his son visited the Youth Forum “Youth. Traditions. Future”, which recently took place in Minsk. Belarusian state TV noted that without youth there is no future for any state or nation. During the event the head of state emphasised that Belarus needs young people who love their country.

State tv showed young Belarusian students who participated in various youth-oriented projects and praised their work.

They also showed viewers that Lukashenka as a student was also involved in similiar activities. Students talked, joked and drank a cup of tea with Lukashenka during the event.

The state will continue to support Belarusian youth. Journalist noted that Belarus had never rejected any of their positive inheritance from the Soviet era. And thanks to continuing on with the youth policy from their soviet past, the state has benefited from it.

Students talked about their experience in working in the student organisations. A boy who worked in a construction group praised the very idea of these organisations, but also the salaries that working students can receive. The boy stated that for two months of work, they received around 19m Belarusian rubles (around $2,000). In his words, those who want to work in Belarus, can find a well-paid job.

Lukashenka reacted to some proposals to involve the student movements to work in construction of a power plant, which is being carried out as a joint project with Russia.The head of state promised to discuss this idea with Vladimir Putin. Perhaps when both states will work on the next power plant in Kaliningrad, they could involve some of the youth. The audience present at the meeting applauded vigorously in response.

Belarus has done everything to attract foreign investors.  It was reported that Belarus has prepared all conditions in terms of legislation to become attractive for the foreign capital. Thus over the last years the country is moving upward in the international ratings regarding the its business friendliness. Today Belarus sits in 64th place out of 198 countries. However, some investors complain that the local officials and bureaucrats efficiently block the inflow of the foreign capital. State TV promised to research that issue thoroughly and present it to their viewers.

International Affairs

The European Union is facing poverty, a crisis of trust. State TV reported that poverty in the EU is on rise. Today almost 17% of the EU population, which is 84 million people, lives in poverty. Journalist pointed out that that twenty four million EU citizens remain jobless. The financial and economic crisis in the EU caused a social crisis. Thus, fewer EU citizens trust in European ideas, only 31%, according to data from the European Social and Economic Committee.

The US betrays its European allies. Belarusian journalist noted that scandalous spying activity of America goes beyond all limits. The Americans spied not only on its rivals, but also its partners, such as Germany.

During a tough telephone conversation between Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, the American president confirmed that at that moment their talk was not being listened to by intelligence agencies. TV asked however if it was spying before. The US has more problems with other partners such as France, Brasil and Mexico. The country’s relations with Europe are already tense. What else can be found in Snowden’s information leak? - Belarusian journalist asked.

Georgians elected a new president. Belarusian state TV informed its audience that Georgy Margvelashvili, won over 62% of the votes. It showed Georgians who praised the newly elected president and his vision of the country. Margvelashvili opts for constructivism in relations with Moscow, continuation of economic reforms and activisation in the international organisations.

Journalist pointed out how democratic and open the presidential elections were. At the same time, they are concerned about the president’s performance in the aftermath of the legislative amendments that had just come into force. These shift executive prerogatives to the government and Georgia's parliament.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials available on the web site of Belarusian State Television 1 (BT1). Freedom of the press in Belarus remains restricted and state media convey primarily the point of view of the Belarusian authorities. This review attempts to give the English-speaking audience a better understanding of how Belarusian state media shape public opinion in the country.

Paula Borowska is an analyst of the Ostrogorski Centre. Originally from Bialystok, she studied at the University of Gdansk and the University of Bologna.

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