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Synopsis

Scientific Essay from the year 2008 in the subject Politics - International Politics - Region: Russia, , course: Conference 'Belarus in Europe: Economic Cooperation and Political Dialogue', 23 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: The fact that demonstrations and street rallies in Belarus are only modestly attended witness that the extent of European and American criticism seems to be more virulent than the domestic resistance against the state authorities. As a matter of fact, in the 14th year of Lukashenko's presidency we have to ask ourselves why the level of civil disobedience still remains very low. One assessment in this regard is beyond question: The argument of the 'people's fear of the authorities' doesn't serve any longer as the sole means of explanation. The reasons for the longevity of this authoritarian regime in the heart of Europe are cross-linked: On the one hand, the historical weakness and the reluctance of the domestic political elite to accept independence in 1991 are very often brought into the discussion. Apart from this, also Russian economic support made it possible for Belarus to navigate itself into a deadlock in its relations with the EU. There may be other reasons which can explain the contemporary situation of a political cul-de-sac. However, the EU decision makers would be well advised to deal with two subjects: First of all, they should seriously consider how much influence they really have over this awkward country and secondly, they should - based on the first consideration - come to reasonable decisions. The imposition of visa bans altogether with the conditional approach of EU rapprochement will not enhance the chances of democratization for Belarus. This 'strategy' will have the opposite of the intended effect and provides the authorities with new tools to accuse the opposition of anti-Belarusian behavior.

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