The key reason why the EU has lifted most of its sanctions against Belarus is that that country has fulfilled its requirements, Head of the Belarus Department of the CIS Institute Alexander Fadeyev told EADaily. Now Belarus can develop its economic ties with Europe.
According to Fadeyev, the Europeans have analyzed the last presidential election in Belarus and have recognized mostly democratic. “Before the elections last summer, Lukashenko released a number of political prisoners, including one presidential hopeful. And though that man was not a rival to Lukashenko as according to the Belorussian laws, a former convict has no right to run for presidency, by releasing him the Belorussian president had shown his commitment to fulfill the EU’s requirements,” the expert said.
One more arguments in favor of Belarus was its position on Ukraine. “The EU first suspended the sanctions and now has lifted them. This is a chance for Lukashenko to get closer to Europe. On the other hand, economically he is bound to Russia, so, he will hardly turn towards the West. In any case, he has done a lot to have the sanctions lifted,” Fadeyev said.
Now he expects more active economic contacts. “The economic cooperation program was frozen in 1997, but now it may be resumed as Belarus has no obstacles here,” the expert said.
The Eurasian Economic Union is not among Belarus’s top economic priorities. The country’s exports support program gives equal shares to exports to the Eurasian Economic Union, the EU and Asia and South America.
“This program does not mention Russia at all. It mentions the Eurasian Economic Union but this partner will be given just 1/3 of Belorussian exports. Lukashenko wants to have equally good economic relations with all of its partners. This may prove to be problematic for Russia as now we have complicated relations with the EU and especially Ukraine. Belarus is trying to act as a mediator here and is seeking benefits from all this,” Fadeyev said.
According to the expert, resumed economic contacts will not mean political integration. “But they will certainly benefit the country. For the Belorussians the key investor is the EU rather than Russia. They believe that now they have opened a new page in their contacts with Europe and may hope to get new investments and new technologies. Belarus is facing a serious crisis, so, this will certainly be good for it,” Fadeyev said.
As EADailyreported earlier, the European Union has lifted most of the sanctions against Belarus. The Europeans have removed Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko, 169 people and 3 companies from its sanction list. The visa and economic sanctions against a number of Belorussian army and police officials suspected of being privy to the disappearance of some oppositionists are still in force. The embargo on arms supplies is also in force.