Hviterussland: en bremsekloss for russisk-vestlig integrasjon
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This report focuses on Belarus’ importance to the Russian-Western relationship in areas such as security policy, economy, democracy and human rights. Due to its geographical location between Russia and the European Union, the Republic of Belarus has, particularly after the 2004 EU enlargement, experienced increased attention from both sides. Western organizations such as the EU and NATO have tried to influence President Lukashenko to moderate his highly anti-western attitudes and authoritarian leadership. These efforts seem to have had limited effect. Belarus maintains a close cultural, economic and security policy relationship with Russia, on which much of Lukashenko’s power rests. Russia’s choice of future path can in other words have significant impact on the position of the current Belarusian president. Russia’s relationship with the West is based on a number of agreements and interaction within different sectors, mainly energy, economy and security policy. Full Russian-Western integration seems unrealistic, at least in the short term. On the background of its current situation, Belarus’ role as a European actor is relatively insignificant. However, if Russia and the West should decide to pursue true integration, Russia would probably have to change its policy towards Belarus. A regime change in Minsk would not necessarily exclude the continuance of a close relationship between the two countries. Such a development could to some extent pave the way for closer relations between Belarus and the West, and between Russia and the West.