EaP summit: EU to offer another carrot to Lukashenka?

There are just some days shy of the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels, in which Belarus will take part. However, the issue of so-called friends and foes still remains open.

“We do not divide Russia and Belarus by borders. We are trying to build something in common,” Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Monday.

Another portion of friendship professions was voiced by the Belarusian president during his meeting with Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast Anton Alikhanov. He also focused on Russia’s and Belarus’ being ‘in the same trench’.

“The things that happen on the borders with Belarus reflect the situation on the border with Kaliningrad Oblast. We are facing the enhancement of the NATO,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

“Therefore, in spite of all the discussions of these issues, the attempts to make us pro-Western and so on, we realize that this is rhetoric. Specific facts show that Belarusians and Russians should not count on anyone,” he told Alikhanov.

Curiously, it is the West mentioned above that is apparently going to offer another carrot to Minsk at the EaP summit on November, 24. According to French Ambassador to Belarus Didier Canesse, a program of cooperation between the EU and Belarus will be adopted at the event.

“Now I cannot go into details, but I can assure you that there will be new elements,” Canesse told TV channel Belarus-1.

What are these new elements? And what changes can one expect in EU-Minsk relations in the near future?

“I guess that Belarusian authorities will agree to some EU offers, in particular, to cooperating in the energy and environmental areas. It is highly unlikely that the regime will make any improvements in governance or economy,” Belarusian political analyst Uladzimir Matskevich says.

According to him, the West keeps falling into the same trap when trying to deal with Alyaksandr Lukashenka. For the record, the latter is standing a chance to represent Belarus at the EaP summit after receiving an official invitation from the bloc. Thus, the ball is on his court. The question is whether Lukashenka, who had barred from entering EU countries for long, is willing to get out of his ‘trench’ and jump at the opportunity.

“In-turn improvement and deterioration of EU-Belarus relations resembles a swing or a sinusoid: there is always a change of direction every few years. Sanctions imposed – sanctions lifted, then a thaw and even sort of euphoria in the hallss of power in some European capitals,” Matskevich says.

For this reason, our expert does not expect any breakthrough in mutual relations. At the same time, the authorities will soom welcome a delegation of French businessmen who are eager to explore market opportunities in our ‘trench’. Nothing personal, just business.

Valer Ruselik, belsat.eu

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