Society members: journalist of the newspaper "Belarusians and Market" Pavljuk Bykovskii and political scientist Ales Lahvinets.
What linked the increasing interest of the EU to Belarus?
Valery Karbalevich: The last months of the official Minsk dialogue with the European Union was in a frozen state. High-ranking EU officials visited Belarus more than a year ago. Last European politician of high rank Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi visited Minsk in November 2009. Thereafter, the contacts at a high level was not. Both sides in a sense, disappointed in each other.
And here the last few days things have changed. Minsk visited the Lithuanian Prime Minister Kubilius. Today concluded his visit Commissioner Füle. Plans to come and minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain. Why suddenly increased interest in Belarus? Why is that?
Pavljuk Bykovskii: This is for a number of reasons. First of all, this is the current conflict with Russia that have touched and united Europe.
There is a disputed issue of EuroNest. This forces the EU to see whether changes in the position of Belarus.
Ales Lahvinets: It was scheduled to visit the person recently took office. New commissioner wants to tie contacts with those countries for relations with whom he is responsible. Also visit is related to the fact that Belarus was the political campaign of the local elections and will soon begin a campaign of the presidential election. And, of course, the Belarusian-Russian conflict of interest raises the European Union to Belarus.
What place in the dialogue is a human rights issue?
KarbalevichTwo years ago, the dialogue between Belarus and the European Union was made possible because Europe solved the problem of democratization in Belarus as a condition of thawing relations. On the eve of his visit to Minsk, the European Commissioner Fule in an article in the newspaper "Sovetskaya Belorussia" said the new level of cooperation is possible only if Belarus to respect human rights. During a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Kobiakov he said that the European Union will develop cooperation with Belarus in the framework of the "Eastern Partnership" with the same speed with which Belarus will move with respect to the core values of the European Union in the field of democracy and human rights. What does this mean? Will this issue again obstacle to dialogue?
Bykovskii: Human rights somehow remain on the agenda of relations between Belarus and the European Union. But the dialogue will continue on other issues. Another question is what will be a hierarchy of topics. It seems that several phrases Fule early to draw big conclusions.
Lahvinets: I do not think that the position of the European Union has changed dramatically. You may recall that, and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, when she came to Minsk, also spoke about indicators of democracy. And in the founding documents of the "Eastern Partnership" we are talking about it.
The EU pays attention to an important relation to the political processes in Belarus. In particular, in political elections. This is such an important company, which did not respond to the EU can not.
What are the results of the visit?
Karbalevich: Pay attention to the fact that the rhetoric of Lukashenko during a meeting with Fule was quite hard and even aggressive. Certain outcome of the visit can be called that the parties have agreed to develop a concrete action plan for the fall in bilateral cooperation, a kind of "road map." How do you assess the results of the visit?
Bykovskii: An important problem is the visa regime. After all visas for Belarusians to the EU are more expensive than for its neighbors. The reason is that there is no agreement between the EU and Belarus. From the statements Füle and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Martynov that the solution of this question is again postponed.
The idea of a "road map" in various forms has tried to implement in the relations between Belarus and the European Union, but without much success. But it is important that Belarus remains on the agenda of EU foreign policy. And the European Union is seeking instruments of influence on democratization in Belarus.
Lahvinets: Do not change much after the visit Füle. He did not allow the acute problems in bilateral relations. The nature of the Belarusian regime is not changed. In the European Union there is a cumbersome decision-making process.
Today Belarusian authorities prefer to develop relations with separate EU countries (Lithuania, Italy). For specific economic results it easier. With regard to the visa issue, the EU is no political will to solve it.
The Russian factor in relations between Belarus and the European Union
Karbalevich: The dialogue between Belarus and the European Union was made possible after the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. Although the visit of European Commissioner Fule planned, but it happened against the background of a sharp cooling of relations between Belarus and Russia. What is the role of Russia in the Belarusian-European dialogue? Is it possible that when the European Union will continue to Lukashenko helping hand to pull Belarus out of Russia's geopolitical field?
Bykovskii: Minsk to play on the contradictions between the West and Russia. It would be too simple an explanation that the West is going to meet Belarus in a moment in Minsk soured relations with Russia. Although a certain extent, this factor is present.
Lahvinets: Indeed, in Belarus there is room to maneuver between Russia and the West, and she uses it. But Russia sees the EU is trying to develop relations with post-Soviet countries as hostile to her.