Policy briefs

Fri, 2008-02-15 11:57
 Schengen - at a New Crossroads

The recent enlargement of the Schengen zone has been a major step towards the completion of the integration process of the enlarged EU that is based on the four fundamental freedoms, including the free movement of persons within the Union. It has been enthusiastically welcomed by the EU's new members in Central Europe, but less so by those who stay outside, most notably the EU's neighbours. In fact, the Schengen enlargement affects the EU's relations with non-Schengen EU members like Romania and Bulgaria, and it creates problems in the EU's relations with ENP countries. The ceremonial pulling-down of the internal border crossings, festive fireworks and optimistic speeches could not hinder concerns and fears in some of the EU member states, either. It has only been a few weeks since the extension of the Schengen acquis; therefore, a comprehensive assessment of its impact is hardly possible. However, this paper outlines the major challenges accompanying the enlargement of the Schengen zone and formulates recommendations for possible policy adjustments that match the realities on the ground.

Wed, 2008-02-13 16:49

By Dzianis Meliantsou and Vitali Silitski 

Belarus-Russia relations are entering a new period of uncertainty with question marks hanging over their future and the goals pursued by the major players. Despite the deep institutionalization and routinization of almost all the aspects of the Belarus-Russia union, the countries have differences over energy prices as some Russian officials de facto press for a steep rise, possible privatization projects, and the formation of "a union state." In our view, the uncertainty emerged after the Russian government in the second half of 2007 revised its plan, declared in 2006, to introduce market-driven pricing for Belarus. In this context, Belarus' relationship with the EU changes depending on tensions or improvements in relations with Russia.
Fri, 2008-02-01 15:33
The Belarusian authorities' repressive grip on political and media freedom intensified after the March 2006 presidential election, which was considered by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), the US, and the EU to have failed to meet international standards for free and fair elections. Opposition leaders and activists remain behind bars, and the authorities continue to beat, detain, and intimidate civil society groups, making it difficult for them to function.
Mon, 2008-01-28 19:25
By Olga Stuzhinskaya

Active discussions on Belarus at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) stopped in 2004, following release of the well-known Pourgourides Report[1] and, consequently, adoption of the Resolution on Disappeared Persons[2], as well as the Resolution on Persecution of the Press in the Republic of Belarus[3]. In the course of 2004-2005, PACE continuously made statements condemning the grave situation with human rights, political freedoms and independent media, and called on the Belarusian government to improve the state of affairs: release political prisoners, conduct free, fair and democratic elections, ensure favourable conditions for existence and functioning of the independent press, allow freedom of assembly.
Mon, 2008-01-28 16:25
On January 22 Andrea Rigoni, a special rapporteur on Belarus for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), declared that PACE should recommence a dialogue with the Belarusian regime of President Alexander Lukashenka. Her comment denotes the latest stage in a continuing debate as to both the possibility of reforming the Lukashenka administration as well as bringing Belarus into the European orbit as a result of current political difficulties between this country and Russia. The EU has combined a partial dialogue with demands for democratization, but little seems to be changing within Belarus.
Mon, 2008-01-14 14:40
SOFIA: Belarus is the last Stalinist-era, centrally planned economy in Europe but a small and hearty group of Western investors are starting to probe the former SovietRepublic, seeing it as the last all-but-untouched real estate market in Europe.
Wed, 2008-01-09 11:14

By Dzyanis Melyantsou

Europe's Schengen arrangement, which allows people to cross borders without having their passports checked, expanded on December 21 to include nine new members of the European Union – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Three of these countries share borders with Belarus. What are the consequences of the move for the Belarusian citizens and the country's relations with the EU neighbors?

Fri, 2007-12-14 16:03

By Dmitry Babich

Russia Profile

Putin and Lukashenko Likely to Stick to the Union State Budget, Disappointing Kremlin-watchers

The visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to neighboring Belarus began in an atmosphere of secrecy, which fed the traditional rumor mill on "imperialist" integration initiatives purportedly coming from Moscow.

Thu, 2007-12-13 17:23

by Rodger Potocki and Iryna Vidanava
4 December 2007

The Belarusian government remains repressive. But the younger generation is getting restless.

The end of the Belarusian democratic opposition’s autumn “marching season” has highlighted several important developments in the country’s youth movement. As was the case with the protests after the fraudulent March 2006 presidential elections, young people made up the majority of opposition supporters taking part in the recent European, Forefather’s Eve, and Social marches. What is new is their increasingly independent stance.

Mon, 2007-12-10 14:39

By Dzianis Meliantsou

The European Commission published a year ago a non paper "What the European Union Can Do for Belarus" outlining the conditions for the Belarusian government that it has to fulfill in order to have a hope for the development of full-fledged cooperation with the European Union. One can conclude that there were obvious moves forward in the Belarus-EU relations in 2007;however, the non-paper has almost no relation to this progress.