Belarus Foreign Policy Index №34 (September–October 2016)

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We are happy to present the thirty-fourth  issue of Belarus Foreign Policy Index, in which we explore Belarus’s foreign policy in five dimensions in the months of September and October 2016.

During the two months under review, Belarus’s endeavor to fully ease tensions in its relationship with Russia did not prove to be completely successful, which is corroborated by the significant negative index of the mutual relations — minus 15, something that we have not seen in a very long time. The two countries identified and formalized the amount of Belarus’s gas debt and seemed to have reached a compromise concerning natural gas and crude oil deliveries; however, they have not started implementing that compromise so far, let alone the fact that the compromise appeared to be much closer to the original position of the Russian side than that of Belarus.

The recovery of Belarusian export supplies to Russia predictably slowed, notably through a reduction in deliveries of food and tractors. The price environment remains unfavorable for Belarusian products in the Russian market.

Intense diplomatic efforts with the countries and institutions of the European Union  resumed (32 points) following the summer vacations. In the wake of the parliamentary elections, Belarus’s relationship with the West and, as part of it, with the EU was showing consistent positive dynamics. A new framework agreement with the EU is becoming Minsk’s official objective in Belarus’s relationship with the European Union.

In September and October, the BelarusChina relationship developed primarily in the context of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s visit to China and his talks with President of China Xi  Jinping. However, the real outcomes of the visit turned out to be quite modest. At the same time, it looked like that beyond the framework of the visit, Belarus and China took a pause in building up their contacts.

Following the certain slack period in Belarus’s relationships with “developing countries”, contacts were markedly stepped up in September and October. Two possible reasons are attempts to make up for difficulties in other areas and, possibly, some of the achieved framework cooperation agreements, which were enough to give a new impetus to engagement. The situation around contacts with the DPRK shows Minsk’s unwillingness to offer any extra reasons to escalate tensions with the West while reaping no benefits whatsoever. When it does pursue some contacts with the countries that are in opposition to the West and its allies, the Belarusian government takes care to limit them and not to show them off.

The relations with Ukraine were tarnished by the incident with the threat of the interception of a Belarusian civil aircraft, which resulted in a serious diplomatic scandal.

Read the full text of the thirty- fourth issue of Belarus’ Foreign Policy Index in PDF