Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s New Year speech was uninspiring and run-of-the mill. The nation failed to hear any answers to hard political and economic questions. In Belsat TV program Hot Commentary, Belarusian experts have made sobering forecasts of Belarus’ development in 2019.
“2018 was one of the years that passed in vain. Many opportunities have not been converted; we have much lost time, although there have been lots of promises. The decisions taken were selective and random, and they yielded poor results. I think the year of 2019 will be the same as 2018. There are measures that could work if they were more consistent. But as we have difficulty being consistent, the promises are hardly kept.
The major problem Belarus is facing these days is not oil price, but the pace of stretching the gap between the rich and the poor. This problem is much more severe than the oil maneuver or paying off our external debt. This is our domestic internal problem which is turning into a mine, and it will be very difficult to defuse it,” economist Leanid Frydkin believes.
Which will be the most relevant choice in the so-called exchanging independence for a barrel of oil?
“This is a major challenge that the Belarusian authorities, society and the country in general are facing. And therefore it is no coincidence that Lukashenka is concerned over the choice. Within a week, he travelled to Moscow twice to have some deal. But I got the impression that the sides failed to do it. There are even different interpretations of the agenda of the working group [on Belarus-Russia integration] that has allegedly been established. Russia considers it a group on the integration under the union state treaty. However, the Belarusian side regards it as a group to discuss disputable points in bilateral relations.
Lukashenka is afraid to appeal to the public, as he believes he is the only politician in the country. Therefore, during a meeting with the government officials, he said that the Belarusians were fretting [about their independence], but, according to him, there was no need to worry, as it was up to the leadership to solve the problem. That was the message – it is no concern of society, nation, but Lukashenka’s and do not be in his way. He might be more afraid of the citizens’ activity more than Russia’s pressure,” political analyst Valery Karbalevich stressed.