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Redrawing the geopolitical map: Belarus and its neighbours connect the Black and Baltic seas
Belarus and Poland are advancing a project to connect the Black and Baltic Seas via the E40 waterway. The 2,000 km-long waterway will run through rivers and canals in Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland and provide better access to seaports for landlocked Belarus. Having already conducted a feasibility study, the participating countries are now considering ways […]
4 August 2017
Plans to transform the old economy into a new IT-economy – digest of the Belarusian economy

According to Belstat, Belarus’s official statistical agency, in the first half of the year the Belarusian economy sped up, improving four months in a row. Meanwhile, on 17 July 2017, the authorities announced plans to transform Belarus’s IT-sector into a full-fledged economic driver, aiming to create new jobs and increase tax revenues. Finally, on 25 […]

3 August 2017
Arms deals, Ostrogorski Forum videos, economic forecasts – Ostrogorski Centre digest

In July, analysts at the Ostrogorski Centre discussed arms deals between Belarus and Russia, developments in Belarusian-Ukrainian relations and the smear campaign against Svetlana Alexievich in the Russian media. We also uploaded video recordings of the Ostrogorski Forum 2017 – a conference on Belarus-EU relations, security, and identity that took place in Minsk in June. […]

2 August 2017
Why is the West afraid of the West-2017 exercises?

On 21 July 2017, Alexander Lukashenka visited Kyiv and met with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. After the meeting, Poroshenko stated that he had received guarantees of security and that Ukraine would never be threatened from Belarusian territory. However, the very same day, Ukrainian Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak voiced a different view: ‘Ukraine and the […]

1 August 2017
The Belarusian authorities learn to appreciate their country’s statehood

On 1 July, on the eve of the official Independence day, Alexander Lukashenka highlighted a relation of Belarusians to the Great Duchy of Lithuania. It became the first statement of officials that identifies Belarusians with an independent discourse of statehood. Since the Ukrainian conflict, Belarusian authorities started displaying the rhetoric that significantly differs from the traditional official discourse of nationhood. Using independent and pro-Belarusian statements, Belarusian authorities continue balancing between West and East aiming as well to decrease the internal confrontation with the opposition.

31 July 2017
Belarusians of the world: “In solidarity we trust”

On 15 – 16 July 2017, Minsk hosted the VII Congress of the Belarusians of the World, gathering over 300 participants. This year's event was remarkably diverse, featuring Belarusian foreign minister Uladzimir Makei and even the former detainees in the White Legion case.

27 July 2017
Belarus and Ukraine cooperate in the face of Russian pressure

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka travelled to Kyiv on an official visit on 20-21 July. Both Belarus and Ukraine, for different reasons, are seeking to reinvigorate direct dialogue between their leaders, which they resumed three months ago in the Chernobyl zone. The ‘age-old friendship’ (in Lukashenka’s terms) between Alexander Lukashenka and Petro Poroshenko may appear paradoxical: the former is authoritarian and pro-Russian while the latter is democratically minded and pro-European. Ukraine is resisting Russian aggression while Belarus remains Moscow’s closest military and political ally. It seems that simplistic political clichés do not capture the two nations' complex relationship.

26 July 2017
Minsk process promoted, engaging the diaspora, export growth – Belarus state press digest

The Belarusian state press promotes the new Helsinki process initiated on Minsk's initiative and reports on the numerous foreign policy achievements of the country. The government attempts to engage the Belarusian Diaspora worldwide to realise its goals. Belarusian exports demonstrate growth after a long recession. This and more in the new edition of the Belarus State Press Digest.

25 July 2017
Belarus finally reaps tangible benefits from its neutrality policy

On 18-19 July, Belarus officially welcomed a delegation of European parliament, and Latvian foreign minister, who made rather positive statements on Minsk's policies. These developments continued the process of Belarus' rapprochement with the EU and other Western structures. A milestone in this process became the annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Minsk on 5-7 July. Later, president Lukashenka commented that even three years ago he he could not imagine a session of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly being hold in Minsk. Belarusian government is finally reaping the fruits of its labour in pursuing neutral policies between Russia and its opponents. That causes reaction of Russian political establishment yet Minsk so far succeeded in minimising that.

24 July 2017
The Many Faces of Forced Labour in Belarus

On 12 July 2017, a Maladzečna District court tried two teachers for the death of 13-year old high school student Viktoryja Papčenia. Viktoryja died tragically last September under the wheels of a truck while harvesting potatoes for a local agricultural enterprise. School No. 11 had sent Viktoryja and her classmates to work in the field without parental consent. The practise of sending students to state agricultural enterprises to work for free during harvest time has its roots in Soviet times. This phenomenon still remains common in modern Belarus, and most Belarusians do not see it as a form of forced labour.