Belarus: Neither sticks, nor Carrots
In her column for Die Zeit Online, Rakhlei analyzes the decision of the European Union that abolished almost all its sanctions against Belarus. Minsk is ready for mend relations with the West as it seeks to balance its political and economic dependence on Russia.
To explain this step, Brussels welcomed the constructive role Belarus played in peace talks on Ukraine and its proactive participation in the Eastern Partnership. However, there is more to that: the EU Member States try to bring more stability to their external borders even if it means lower expectations for democratic standards in the country.
This marker is also a reason why Moscow doesn’t seem to worry about the new Minsk’s foreign policy rhetoric as it goes together with a repeated promise by President Lukashenka that no reforms will take place.
The author states that neither sticks, nor carrots have been particularly effective in case of EU-Belarus relations, as neither of them can coerce a non-democratic regime to reform itself as it means losing control over the country. At the same time, this rapprochement could give Belarusian civil society an important and much-needed break from repressions and enable NGOs, the media and political activists to reach out to their countrymen.
This OpEd is written in German.
Photo Credit: Marco Fleber