The dominant foreign policy event in March 2013 was the visit of the official delegation, led by Aliaksandr Lukashenka, to Indonesia and Singapore. These were the first Belarusian highest level visits to these countries. During his visit to Minsk Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić not only decorated Alexander Lukashenka with the highest Serbian state award, but also publicly repented for the mistakes made by Serbia in relations with Belarus. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and Turkey signed agreements on visa-free travel and readmission that were negotiated since October 2010.
The negative balance of foreign trade became a significant challenge. In January 2013, the exports from Belarus dropped 15% compared to January 2012, National Statistical Committee early March release shows. As of March 1, the warehouse stockpiles totalled 75.2% of a monthly production output. Production increase despite low internal demand and expensive credits indicates the public enterprises managers' pursuit of a planned GDP growth at 8.5% during 2013. Both the IMF team and the EDB in its report recommended Belarusian authorities to be cautious in attempting to achieve high economic growth rates in 2013.
Major March trends in the social sector were certain economic stabilization, slight increase in incomes and steadily rising inflation rate the same time, with no preconditions to slow down soon. The image of the welfare state is maintained by a number of not costly measures. They include projects to support people with disabilities and people in crisis, reforms in the payroll system for medical professionals.
The cultural life in Belarus in the month of March was neither rich nor versatile. It appeared to be in a state of equilibrium when authorities made no attempts either to further de-liberalize the cultural sphere or to remarkably ease the existing restrictions and prohibitions. The “soft Belarusization” was carried out mainly in informal sector, not by the government. The relative stabilization in the cultural life in Belarus and current “freezing” of the existing cultural contradictions may be explained by recent attempts by the Belarusian authorities to normalize relations with the European Union.
The BISS-Timeline is a brief monthly review of the major social, economical, political and cultural events in Belarus. It enables the reader to learn about what is happening in the field of interest within just a few minutes.
Find March BISS-Timeline issue in PDF format below.