Prospects for Democracy in Belarus
“Our country will never be the same. We have set in motion something that will not be forgotten and cannot be stopped. We do not know when victory will come but we do know that, at some time in the future, our victory is assured.”
– Alyaksandr Milinkevich, Leader of the United Democratic Forces in Belarus
Belarus is at a crossroads in its history. Presidential elections on March 19, 2006, have been widely discredited by the local democratic opposition and the international community as neither free nor fair; the fraudulent poll sparked the largest protests in several years. Until they were violently suppressed by the Lukashenka regime, ordinary Belarusians took to the streets of Minsk to express their desire for change. The European Union and the United States have become increasingly concerned with the human and civil rights situation in the country, and they have openly indicated their commitment to a free and democratic Belarus. Yet to achieve this goal, enormous obstacles will have to be overcome. This will require a better understanding of the domestic and international factors and developments behind the situation in Belarus today, as well as better strategies and tools to support democrats in the country in their struggle for freedom and democracy.
Published jointly by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation of Germany, Prospects for Democracy in Belarus provides a systematic account of recent developments in Belarus, combined with more strategic and policy-oriented considerations on improving Western democracy assistance. It brings together perspectives of twenty-five contributors, including activists, analysts, and policymakers from Belarus, Europe, and the United States. They explore prospects for democracy in Belarus by scrutinizing the domestic and international context prior to the recent elections, by providing a variety of perspectives on the presidential poll and the events surrounding it, and by discussing a variety of options for improving Western, and especially European, support for democracy in Belarus.
This book was edited by GMF’s Joerg Forbrig (program officer) and Pavol Demeš (director for Central and Eastern Europe), and David R. Marples, history professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, and vice president of the North American Association of Belarusian Studies.
Hard copies of the book may be obtained by contacting Joerg Forbrig ([email protected]), or by printing from the link above.