Belarus will proceed with policy of balancing
Belarus hopes to reduce regional security threats with a new negotiation process, since the policy of balancing between the warring parties is close to exhaustion, as the West-2017 military exercises have demonstrated.
The West-2017 exercises have been held without significant excesses in terms of regional security, and confirmed that Belarus, even in alliance with Russia, was not a regional threat. The Belarusian authorities controlled the number of troops and weapons, the order and location of the exercises in Belarus and the compliance with the approved and promulgated scenario. Conventionally, Belarus has failed in providing adequate information coverage for the exercises.
However, these shortcomings had little impact on the overall outcome of the exercises for the region: Russia held an intimidation action and demonstrated its ability to create regional military threats around the perimeter - at training facilities in the Kaliningrad, Leningrad and Pskov regions and in Belarus in the framework of the West-2017 exercises; in the Astrakhan region within the framework of Combat Commonwealth-2017; at the troops training facilities in their permanent deployment areas, and, according to NATO spokesman O. Lungescu, in the Arctic, the Far East, the Black Sea near the border with Ukraine, and also in Abkhazia.
The growing hostility between Russia and all other Belarus’ neighbours has prompted the latter to look for ways to relax tension in the region. Foreign Minister Makey at the UN General Assembly last week attempted to promote the idea of negotiations in Minsk between Russia, the EU, China and the US, to work out common approaches to regional security and consolidate mutual commitments. Minsk is likely to continue the policy of balancing, strengthening mutual trust with the EU, the US and China, while continuing close cooperation with Russia.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.