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
IMF: Belarus’ Economic Challenges More Difficult
WASHINGTON – The economic situation in Belarus has worsened since the eastern European country signed a $2.46 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund in January, the IMF said Tuesday.
"The fall in demand in major trading partners, including Russia, has hit Belarus's exporters hard," Chris Jarvis, the IMF's Belarus mission chief, said in a statement following a weeklong visit to Minsk.
Additionally, "The devaluation of the ruble on January 2 and the peg to a basket of currencies have reduced Belarus's vulnerability to the external shocks it is facing," Jarvis said.
The IMF already has disbursed $800 million in loans to Belarus. The remainder is scheduled to be disbursed by early 2010. "We believe that with the right policies Belarus can meet the challenges it faces," Jarvis said. IMF officials are scheduled to return to Belarus in late April or early May. Source: Dow Jones Newswires (March 10, 2009)