Uladzimir Matskevich suggested dissolving the National Platform and freeing it of the organizations that cannot be constructive in their work so that to build new union from nothing and on new basis.
On May 5 Belarusan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum held a round table “Eastern Partnership on the eve of the Summit in Riga: Challenges and tasks for the Belarusan civil society”. However, the discussion unfolded not around the Summit but more around the future of the Platform itself.
A six-year journey
Ulad Vialichka, the head of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus”, summed up the six-year existence of the Eastern Partnership and Belarusan National Platform. The picture came to be not very positive: there were both successes and failures.
Over the six years of its existence Eastern Partnership has been articulating European perspective for the citizens of six countries: Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. Frames and infrastructures of direct communication and negotiation basis of the EU and EaP were established. A number of countries-members of the EaP are organizing reforms and sign frame agreements. New mechanisms of supra-national participation and action/counteraction to the national community appear.
Now EaP has entered a phase of radicalization of geopolitical situation in the region.
For Belarus a six-year presence of the EaP came to be lost and unfulfilled opportunities of country’s reformation, opportunities to appeal to the European dialog of development in dialog with the society, new formats of professional and sectorial dialog. The main loss is disappointment and tiredness of expectation and lack of real results and changes.
On the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga and on the eve of the presidential campaign Belarusan National Platform came to be at the crossroads: complete lack of inner political progress, lack of any communications between the Belarusan regime and civil society.
Six countries-members of the EaP are divided at outsiders and leaders; EU’s neighborhood policy will be reviewed.
Belarusan National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum didn’t manage to unfold the social and political dialog. Contacts of the civil society organizations with the power structures are reduced to the minimum. There is no general action strategy of pro-democratic forces in today’s Belarus. In situation of economic and political crisis National Platform is not an active agent and doesn’t suggest any way-outs. The work of the Belarusan National Platform in the form of Road Maps was suspended; there is almost no activity within the frames of thematic working groups. National Platform is still not very visible at the common national “screen” of events and agents.
The prospects of work of the Belarusan National Platform are also sad: “a lot of draft work without guarantees of result”. “There is no point of attraction and cooperation of pro-European forces in the country. Pro-European forces do not assemble into a system of actions. National Platform should become this center of attraction”, - Ulad Vialichka assumes.
The head of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus” asked himself two questions.
Is the reboot of the EaP possible? As its use will be felt both by Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova – the EaP leaders, as well as by Belarus, Armenia, and Azerbaijan that are EaP outsiders. Or is the situation for outsiders completely hopeless?
Should we invest resources and forces in enhancing the work of the Belarusan National Platform without clear vision of prospects and predictable results?
The need for our own position
Uladzimir Matskevich, the head of the Board of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus “, asked a question about inability to resolve common national issues. Basically, the philosopher and methodologist demanded to give answers to the questions: who is guilty in BNP’s sad state and what should we do?
“By 2015 we lost any opportunity to influence the European policy. The only Belarusan agent that was and is talking with Europe is the Belarusan regime. We are like laths is an endless stream. That is why elaboration of our own stance without taking consideration for people and structures is a false signal. Dissatisfaction creates a wrong image and leads to wrong decisions”, Uladzimir Matskevich emphasized.
He demanded that the National Platform elaborates its own position re the presidential campaign: “If the National Platform isn’t formulating its own attitude towards the elections it rejects communication with Europe”, - Uladzimir Matskevich noted.
Uladzimir Matskevich asked the National Platform to dissolve itself, get rid of ballast in the form of “destructive structures”, and build new one at the old place.
It was Uladzimir Matskevich that set the pace of the lively discussion. In result the promise to set a question to a BNP Conference re the presidential election in June was made.
Self-dissolvent, freeze, or preservation of status quo
However strange it may seem, the suggestion of Uladzimir Matskevich didn’t meet rejection among the participants of the round table.
“I agree that there is need to dissolve the National Platform. By losing its development dynamics, its also lost its functions. And today I don’t even see the resource at the expense of which we could restore the functions that the National Platform lost”, - emphasized Piotr Kuzniatsou, the founder of the “Centre for Regional Development “Homel Democratic Forum”.
Andrei Yahorau, co-chair of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, national coordinator of the EaP CSF for Belarus, the Director of the Center for European Transformation, reminded the audience that at the previous conference of the National Platform he suggested to freeze the work of the BNP to leave it exclusively as an infrastructure element of the Eastern Partnership. However, the conference didn’t make such decision.
Well, the round table didn’t make any decisions either, since it had no corresponding powers.
After the event finished Andrei Yahorau summed up the discussion in the interview with the “EuroBelarus” Information Service:
- We discussed the current problems of the National Platform related to two aspects.
In June we will hold the conference of the National Platform in relation to which we got a need to discuss the expediency of the work of the National Platform in its current form. This question was put on edge by Uladzimir Matskevich, who was seriously talking about the need to determine its position with the presidential campaign. Besides, if we are going to resolve serious tasks in Belarus we need to dissolve the National Platform and clear it of those organizations that cannot be constructive in their work so that to build new union from nothing and on new basis.
Such organization of the question caused serious discussion: some participants were for the National Platform’s dissolution; others were for its preservation in the current form. We haven’t made any decisions yet, but the problem needs to be resolved in June at the conference.
Second question is the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga and the civil society conference on the eve of the Summit and the stance of the National Platform re the development of the Eastern Partnership and Belarus-Europe cooperation. Eastern Partnership is undergoing crisis now, but in the situation that is emerging now we cannot ignore such countries as Belarus, we cannot abandon Europeanization of these countries because of governments’ policies, as the government and the society are different agents. We need to build the policy in such a way to draw these countries in the European transformation process.