The current actions of the European Union fit in the general logic of Belarus-EU relations – small steps for restoration of trust between the two parties.
The EU has excluded 24 Belarusan officials from the “black lists”. About 200 of officials still remain in the “black lists”. Belarus Foreign Ministry called the decision of the EU Council “a step in the right direction, though insufficient”.
What stands behind the one-way concessions of the EU to the official Minsk?
Andrei Yahorau, the Director of the Center for European Transformation told about it to the “EuroBelarus” Information Service.
- The EU has excluded 24 Belarusan officials from the “black lists”. What grounds does EU have for such step?
- Unfortunately, in due time we didn’t get the answer of the EU regarding the criteria for including in the sanction lists and exclusion from them. It is an internal decision of the European Union in relation to the people concerned with repressions and violations of human rights in Belarus. We only have a general description of people included into “black lists”. That is why just like before we cannot judge about the judicial grounds for excluding Belarusan officials from the sanction lists. We can only assume that this is EU’s political decision.
- Those excluded from the sanction lists include former judges that were directly passing sentences after the presidential campaign 2010; officials, who executed unlawful orders, and propagandists, who were justifying repressions. Can it be that one-way concussions of the EU will only lead to the enforcement of repressions?
- Sanctions have never prevented the Belarusan regime from arresting people and increasing the number of political prisoners in the country. That is why reduction of the level of sanctions won’t lead to global consequences.
Current actions of the EU fit in the general logic of Belarus-EU relations – small steps for restoration of trust between the two parties. On the eve of elections EU reduces the level of sanctions, thus demonstrating the loyalty of the EU towards possible improvement of relations, and expects steps from the official Minsk in return, liberalization of the election process and release of political prisoners in particular.
We don’t know how will Belarusan authorities react to the actions of the EU, since informal diplomatic agreements that are likely to exist are unknown for us.
- The EU has excluded five heads of Belarusan universities from the “black list”. Why did they get this honor?
- Belarusan heads were excluded from the sanction list because Belarus is included in Bologna process. Basically it means that Belarus’ correspondence to the criteria of Bologna process, i.e. to the level of academic freedoms, is officially recognized. This recognition is temporary since there is a Road Map of reforms. Having got this place in Bologna process, Belarusan universities should develop relations with the universities of other countries of Bologna process. To do this, heads of Belarusan universities got freedom of travel, which is another decision that the EU made in advance.
- I.e. the actions of the EU secure the existing tendencies, which Uladzimir Matskevich described in one sentence: “There is only regime, only Lukashenka at the international arena”. Thus, we are talking not about the legitimation of Lukashenka’s regime, but about its recognition de facto.
- Basically, yes. This is what is happening now, and has been happening for a long time – since November 2013; now this trend was reinforced. However, the decisive moment that will put everything in order will be the “elections-2015” and the following events. The EU still counts at the release of the political prisoners – until that the EU isn’t going to make any more serious decisions. For now the actions of the two parties are reduced to the exchange of signals.
- Can we judge the EU’s perception of the “Presidential elections” from symbolic steps? Is the EU ready to recognize Belarusan regime in case the political prisoners are released?
- Of course, not. The EU can only recognize Belarusan regime de-facto. In order to really recognize Belarusan regime, we need to recognize elections and their legitimacy. “Elections” won’t be recognized unless they are quite democratic, which isn’t to be expected. The maximum that the official Minsk can count at is the statement of progress. It will enable the EU to hope for the further improvement and, accordingly, demand the elevation of bilateral relations to a new level.
But all depends on the results of elections or, rather, on the absence of mass repressions after the “elections”.