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European Regional Master's Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe
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The EU’s “policy of engagement” in Belarus: another failure?

May 2013 | #35

by: Gioele Fabbri
pp: 37
ISSN: 2038-632X

Paper's frontpage


The paper will focus on the most recent stage of EU-Belarus relations, from 2008 until 2012.  The first part will analyze the reasons that brought the EU to suspend the sanctions against Lukašenka’s regime and to undertake a “policy of engagement” towards Belarus.  Particular attention will be given to the role played by the new Eastern European  member states in shaping  this new course that brought to an end the international isolation of Belarus (which culminated  in the latter  becoming a member of the Eastern Partnership).  Moreover, an assessment of the results achieved by the EU’s “policy of engagement”, in light of the evolution of Belarusian foreign and domestic policy, will be offered.  As for Minsk’s foreign policy, the focus will be on the deterioration of Lukašenka’s relations with Moscow, which led the Belarusian leader  to avoid too tight a bond with the Kremlin and to establish new relations with Brussels.   Belarusian internal politics will then be emphasized in the second chapter, dedicated to the 2010 Belarusian Elections and to the subsequent implosion of EU-Belarus relations due to the violent crackdown on opposition protests by the Belarusian regime. This section will focus on the strategy employed by Lukašenka for extracting benefits from Brussels through cooperation while simultaneously trying to circumvent the EU’s conditionality in order to hold firm the reins of power.
Finally, the  last chapter will  analyze the EU’s response to the  December 2010 events:   the freezing  of the “policy of engagement”  with  the  immediate   resumption of the  EU sanctions on the Belarusian regime and key economic actors, which led to  a profound crisis between Minsk and Brussels (reaching its climax with the departure in solidarity from Belarus of all EU MSs ambassadors), and  then the  spring 2012 partial rapprochement with  the EU’s commitment to  a “policy of critical engagement” towards Minsk.  In this last section particular emphasis will be given to the process that brought Brussels to settle the crisis by mediating among different member states’ positions, in particular between the supporters of tough sanctions and the advocates of  a policy of cooperation with Belarus.



EU-Belarus relations
EU foreign policy
EU enlargement to the East
European Integration
Russian foreign policy
political liberalization
economic modernization

Table of contents

1. The EU’s “policy of engagement” in Belarus
2. Lukašenka’s strategy
3. The EU's response

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