Belarus’ Foreign Policy Index №11 (November-December 2012)

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BISS proudly presents a new issue of Belarus Foreign Policy Index, covering November and December 2012.

The issue sums up the results of the year 2012; therefore, we will assess the yearly dynamics of the foreign policy efforts while sharing our outlook for the country’s foreign policy in this new year 2013.

Key conclusions:

With Russia, a relationship model is sought that is built on compromise, a new pattern of relations enabling Russia to reduce its subsidies to the Belarusian economy while keeping this country under its absolute political control, fully engaging Minsk in the Eurasian Union project and encouraging it to allow the expansion of Russian capital.

With Europe, Belarus’s contacts somewhat intensified, especially at the level of the Foreign Ministry and other foreign policy institutions, however, this trend has not resulted in any improvements of political relations.

China has proved to expand quite significantly in the Belarusian economy, especially its financial sector, during the period in question. China gradually takes the place of the European Union in official Minsk’s ‘maneuvering policy.

Prognoses for 2013.

In 2013, backroom tensions will remain between the two countries, as Russia will definitely try and slash its economic support for Belarus; however, this reduction will likely be a mere formality. If one channel of subsidies is shut for Belarus, then new ones will be introduced to offset the curtailment.

In 2013, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry will continue its efforts to mend diplomatic fences with the EU partners; however, if it fails to release political prisoners, the year 2013 will turn out to be an exact copy of the previous year, as the positive effect of approximation attempts will be offset by mutual criticism and, possibly, new scandals.

In 2013, China will continue lending to Belarus, although still at a moderate pace and on terms that it deems favorable, in order to secure itself a foothold in the economic sectors that it is most interested in. In late 2013, Belarus and China may see their relations cool off.

In 2013, Belarusian-Ukrainian relations will remain at the current level, i.e. calm and cool. However, reshuffles in the Ukrainian government and the diplomatic corps may affect the bilateral framework and bring about quite unexpected conflicts.

Should the internal political situation in Venezuela change, which is quite possible because of President Hugo Chavez’s health problems, Belarus may see its relations deteriorate not only with that country, but also with some other partners in the region, where Venezuela acts as a facilitator of Belarus’s contacts. In 2013, contacts with new partners—India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia—may pave the way for effective bilateral projects.