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Lukashenka meets Americans, Belarusians give up on state benefits – Digest of Belarusian Analytics

Belarus’s geopolitical importance grows amid the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Alexander Lukashenka meets American analysts in Minsk. Eurasian Development Bank warns Belarus of risks. Belarusians no longer expect free benefits from the government. Belarus climbs up to the 37th...

Belarus’s geopolitical importance grows amid the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Alexander Lukashenka meets American analysts in Minsk.

Eurasian Development Bank warns Belarus of risks. Belarusians no longer expect free benefits from the government. Belarus climbs up to the 37th position in Doing Business.

PACE calls on Belarus not to issue Astravets NPP license. The number of women involved in the Belarusian IT sphere has increased by 2.5 times. Belarus ranked 38th in World Ranking of English Proficiency.

This and more in the new digest of Belarusian analytics.

Politics

The autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodox Church Spotlights Belarus’s Growing Geopolitical Importance – Grigory Ioffe notes that the latest Belarusian-Russian summit in Mahileu and the issue of Orthodox disunion together ended up spotlighting the further growth of Belarus’s geopolitical significance. The crisis and war in Ukraine had started that trend as early as 2014, leading to the promotion of Minsk as a venue for truce talks.

Partnership priorities between Belarus and EU may be signed before the yearend. This became known after the meeting of EaP foreign ministers and the EU in Luxembourg, on October 15. Belarusian MFA Head Vladimir Makei notes, “unfortunately, our partners have recently added a number of additional provisions we have to study. I think we will elaborate a position on it very soon.”

Lukashenka Meets American Analysts – Grigory Ioffe analyses the media reaction on November visit to Minsk of a group of US foreign policy analysts. But still, despite the noticeable improvement in relations with the West, Lukashenka decided against travelling to Paris to attend the celebration of the end of WW I. The analyst explains this referring to journalist Alexander Klaskouski: ‘Lukashenka prefers to enter Europe on a white horse, not to get lost in the crowd’.

Economics

Reforms needed: Eurasian Development Bank warns Belarus of risks. The unbalanced growth of salaries and the instability of its payment balance are major threats to Belarus’ economy. The EDB expert group visited Minsk on October 2-5 with a monitoring mission on amending the government’s reform program, necessary to be fulfilled for the final, seventh EFSD tranche of the credit.

Belarusians No Longer Expect Free Benefits From Government – Alexander Chubrik, IPM Research Center, talks about the results of a recent study on the values of the Belarusian society. In particular, Belarusians believe that the main task of the state is ‘to give an opportunity to earn money’. Ten years ago, such a request came only from the business. Now this answer overtakes even the provision of quality medical care, pensions, and protection against crime.

kef 2018

KEF 2018 Conference in Minsk. Source: tut.by

Belarus climbs up to the 37th position in Doing Business, according to the World Bank 2019 report. Compared to last year, Belarus has risen one place to rank 37th out of 190 economies. The country summary contains a brief description of reform: Belarus made starting a business easier by abolishing the requirement to register the book of Registry of Inspections and made dealing with construction permits easier.

KEF Results: Less Desire to Talk about Reform – In November, the 6th Kastryčnicki Economic Forum (KEFBelarus in a Brave New World was held in Minsk. This event traditionally gathers the most influential officials, businessmen, experts, and journalists. Economist Sergei Chaly sums up the KEF-2018 results and explains why there is less and less need and desire to talk about reforms.

Security

PACE calls on Belarus not to issue Ostrovets NPP license. The parliamentarians urged the authorities of Belarus not to issue an operating license for the Ostrovets nuclear power plant until it meets certain international safety standards. PACE voted for the resolution in Strasbourg, on October 11.

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) hosted its 2018 Core Group Meeting in Minsk, on October 31 and November 1. The event brought together senior government officials and representatives from international organisations, including Belarus’ president, OSCE Secretary General, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and more.

Monitoring of the Situation in the Field of Economic Security of Belarus. October 2018 – Belarus Security Blog’s monthly monitoring indicates that the deterioration in the currency and deposit markets, caused by the September devaluation of the ruble and faster growth of population incomes, may force the authorities to adopt a policy of tightening monetary policy. This can create problems to achieve the planned GDP growth in 2019.

Belarusian army among 25 most powerful in Europe, according to the Business Insider’s latest ranking. Russia has the most powerful army in Europe, followed by France, Britain, and Turkey. Belarus was ranked 17th: the total number of active-duty and reserve military personnel in Belarus exceeds 400,000.

Information Technology

Belarus, Ukraine And Russia: Time To Revisit Their Tech? – Ilya Abugov, Crypto Briefing, notes that the Eastern European region has its share of unique problems, but even so, the blockchain scene in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia has been significantly overlooked. At this point, it is not about finding a diamond in the rough, but rather finding the entrance to the mine.

Belarusian IT: More females employed. New tendencies have appeared in the Belarusian IT sphere over the last 10 years, according to the annual research of the portal Dev.by. The number of women involved in the IT sphere has increased by 2.5 times. Females make up 1/5 of all IT specialists in the country.

Women in Belarusian IT

Belarusian IT specialists attending the first Women IT Week. Source: https://bel.biz/heroes/witw/

Belarus industrial park can help boost GDP, EBRD-supported reports find. The analytical work has helped the Bank open up more policy dialogue with the Belarusian authorities on their plans for the development of a market-oriented economy in general and the Great Stone Industrial Park in particular.

Other

Best In Travel 2019: Belarus in Top 10 countries. Lonely Planet team announced its picks for the hottest travel destinations for 2019. Belarus is tipped to be big next year. The Best in Travel 2019 book credits the country for being open to new travellers on the back of relaxed visa requirements.

Belarus ranked 38th in World Ranking of English Proficiency. This is the first time Belarus appeared on the annual EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) published for the eighth consecutive year. The 2018 survey took into account 1.3 million non-native English speakers, across 88 countries. Belarusians speak better English than their neighbours in the East and South: Russia occupies the 42nd place and Ukraine – 43rd.

KEF poll: 85.6% of Belarusians ready to fight for their country in time of war. This is data of the survey about the values of the Belarusians conducted within the framework of KEF in May-June 2018. Thus, 86.1% of respondents call the Belarusian language ‘an important part of the culture, and it should be preserved’; 85.8% say that they are proud of Belarus.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

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Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk holds degrees from Coventry University and the European Humanities University. She is based in Minsk, Belarus.
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