Participants of the conference ‘Towards a New Vision of Belarus’ acknowledged the formation of a political consensus in the Belarusian society spreading towards the ruling elite, the political opposition and the society as a whole. For the first time since gaining independence, a broad agreement in the Belarusian society on the necessity to preserve independence of the Belarusian state had been achieved. The building of this agreement was a complicated process that was completed under the influence of new circumstances, first of all, the energy conflict with Russia. The existence of the consensus on independence sets a broad platform for a new public accord on the European path of development for Belarus.
For the past decade, the absence of reforms in the economy and social policy was a cornerstone of the ‘social contract’ between the authorities and the society. Avoidance of reforms and the shocks they would entail returned a continuous public support for the policies of Belarusian authorities. However, the transformations induced by the energy conflict brought the end to the non-reform period of Belarus’ development. It is becoming apparent that changes are inevitable in the future despite the fundamental lack of the political will to carry out reforms. The country faces the challenge of a radical revision of the economic and social policy, its geopolitical orientation, and, in the end, the political changes. The direction of these changes will determine the future of Belarus. These challenges open the space for the search and proposition of the alternative ways of the country’s development. The intention of the BISS is to promote this process through the creation of a non-partisan platform for the dialogue on key issues of the Belarus’ development, economy, social and foreign policies, which will have to be efficiently dealt with by any political authority. and well-being of its citizens.
The immediate goal of the BISS is the formulation is a dynamic and enabling research program allowing the consolidation the efforts of the expert community in order to develop a comprehensive knowledge on various aspects of change in the Belarusian society. The discussions held during the conference have raised a range of issues that are decisive for the formulation of strategic goals of the Belarusian society as a whole. The BISS suggests these goals could be articulated in the following way:
- How to security Belarus’ independence and the country’s long-term economic competitiveness and energy security in the context of its development in the European region
- How, taken into the consideration the new economic and geopolitical realities, to provide for a better quality of life for Belarusian citizens
These issues are the basis for setting a strategic agenda for an independent expert community of Belarus. Such agenda, oriented towards the well-being, development, and a better quality of life of the Belarusian citizens, and finding ways of building a strong, prosperous, and educated nation, isnot directed against anyone. In contrast to particularistic, partisan political intentions, it is aimed at the promotion of the public interest, a common good, and well-being of the Belarusian citizens. We are confident that such an approach opens the opportunity for broadening of the public support for the change and reforms under the banner of progress and development in contrast to political confrontation and intrigues.
By offering such agenda, the BISS is fully aware that its implementation is hardly possible by the means of an individual (or even small group) effort. The development of the agenda without taking into account the accumulated knowledge, competences, available programs and alternatives is rather counterproductive for solving the tasks posed above. Accordingly, there is a need to organize interaction within the expert and research community. But the interaction should not collide with the identity and autonomy of the already existing research bodies and groups, institutions, and environments. The appropriate forms of interaction are as follows:
- Reviewing and generalization of the available endeavors and reform programs;
- Specification of the agenda for the development of an encompassing vision of the country’s future;
- Development of the research strategy on the basis of proposals made by the analytical centers and the representatives of the expert society;
- Expansion of cooperation among independent research bodies on the questions of a mutual interest;
- Cooperation in implementation of research projects;
- Cooperation in building communications;
- Using available media channels and creating of new media and institutional platforms in order to promote the dialogue within the analytical community as well as between it and the elites and the society as a whole;
In its turn, the BISS is ready to provide the information resources it possesses as an appropriate, but not the only one, platform for the dialogue. We see the necessity of creating a special forum for a regular exchange of opinions, specification of the agenda, and decision about the forms of cooperation in the future. At the same time, we are fully open to new ideas and proposals and the joint research and practical activities for the sake of the common good and future of Belarus.