Invitation: Food for Thought Event: ‘Why Belarus is different’

The Office for a Democratic Belarus and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies

Monday, June 23, 2014 - 12:30 to 14:45

Martens Centre Conference Room, Rue du Commerce 20- 1st floor, 1000 Brussels


The Office for a Democratic Belarus and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies cordially invite you to the Food for Thought event entitled ‘Why Belarus is different’.
While all eyes were lately on Eastern Europe, Belarus has received remarkably little attention from the West. The Russian aggression against Ukraine and Armenia’s announcement to join the Russian-led Customs Union have taken away the limelight from what used to be called Europe’s last dictatorship.

In defending democratic values in Belarus and, the EU has followed different strategies, from offers of cooperation with the Lukashenka regime to limited diplomatic and economic sanctions. None of them have brought the desired result. Today, Belarus is the only Eastern Partnership country against which sanctions are applied, although Azerbaijan is arguably as authoritarian as Belarus. Does the EU possess the political will and real tools that would help Belarus modernise and progress? While many of the former Soviet countries struggle in their relationship with Russia, Belarus seems to be relatively comfortable with its big neighbour. One could argue, this is a sweet façade for a sour reality.

At this event we will discuss why Belarus is different from the other Eastern European countries. Should the EU continue to do business as usual when it comes to Belarus? Does the strategic importance of the country change in view of the Ukraine events? Might Belarus experience the ’Ukrainian path’?

We very much hope that you will attend. Please confirm your participation here.


12:30-13:00    Lunch and registration
  Welcome by Tomi Huhtanen, Director, Martens Centre
13:10-13:40    Key notes by

Dzianis Melyantsou, Senior Analyst, Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies
Siarhei Bogdan, Senior Analyst, Belarus Digest; Chief Analyst, Ostrogorski Centre
Jana Kobzová, Programme Officer, European Endowment for Democracy

13:40-14:45    Q&A moderated by Ingrid Habets, Research Officer, Martens Centre