No modernization is possible unless it is defined and undertaken by the Belarusian people themselves, Maira Mora, head of the European Union’s Delegation to Belarus, said in an interview with news agency BelaPAN, commenting on the prospects for the EU’s European Dialogue on Modernization with Belarus (DoM).
It’s not up to the EU to save Belarus
“As initially conceived, the Dialogue on Modernization is just a stage in the preparation of a joint interim plan,” she said. “We hope we will sit down and discuss it with the authorities when the political situation permits it. We were close to doing it in the past.” The EU would like to “further familiarize the Belarusian government with the main areas of DoM, taking also into account already ongoing EU-Belarus sectoral dialogues,” Ms. Mora said. “This could potentially include consultations with the Government on issues such as justice, electoral reforms, human rights, economic governance, trade and investment issues, etc. This could help to understand better what the modernization needs of the Belarusian society are, and how the EU could support them when political circumstances allow it.”
Release of political prisoners remains central
According to Ms. Mora, the release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners in Belarus is a prerequisite to a dialogue between the EU and Minsk.
“And once it happens, we will need to compare notes to make sure all sides agree on what modernization means,” she said. “The fact that the Dialogue on Modernization proposes EU Member States’ experience in transition and transformation automatically puts first things first. In our understanding, the core element of modernization is the restructuring of the economy to secure new sources of growth and observance of Belarus’ internal laws and international commitments in the areas of democracy, rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. Again, put plainly and simply, it is impossible to modernize the economy only.”
“Belarus authorities acknowledge the need for modernization,” Ms. Mora said. “I hope they also recognize the need to modernize not only industrial assets but the society as a whole.”
No need in ‘pendulum’ policy
The European Union does not believe that financial assistance is what it takes to achieve systemic and sustainable modernization, Maira Mora said when asked whether the EU could provide as much money as Russia did to win Belarus over to its side.
“The choice Belarus supposedly has to make between east and west has long been and will remain a false one,” Ms. Mora said. “Every country has the right to choose alliances that serve its interest best, and involvement in one alliance does not preclude involvement in others as long as they all are based on compatible rules, values and principles. In addition, while Russia may be more flexible in helping Belarus’ authorities address their immediate wants, the EU believes not in quick fixes but in conscious, systemic reforms that ensure sustainable development of economy and society and contribute to regional and global stability. The European Dialogue on Modernization with Belarus is one way for Belarus to take advantage of EU Member States’ experience and expertise.”
Belsat, following BelaPAN