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Belarus at a Crossroads: Opting for Deeper Integration or Neutrality?

  • International Institute for Peace 5 Möllwaldplatz Wien, Wien, 1040 Austria (map)

In light of the upcoming visit of the Belarusian President to Austria, the International Institute for Peace (IIP) kindly invites you to a public talk with Artyom Shraibman.

Belarus at a Crossroads: Opting for Deeper Integration or Neutrality?

Date:                                   Monday, 4 November 2019

Time:                                   6:00 pm                             

Venue:                                International Institute for Peace (IIP); Möllwaldplatz 5/2, 1040 Wien



Welcome:                         Hannes Swoboda, president of the IIP and former MEP

Speaker:                            Artsyom Shraibman, political analyst, Sense Analytics

Moderator:                      Maryia Hushcha, research assistant at the IIP



Belarus has largely been off the radar of the European Union, and the West more broadly, for almost a decade now. Pro-democratic forces within the country, as well as their supporters abroad, have effectively failed to bring about political change to this former Soviet republic. Aliaksandar Lukashenka was elected President of Belarus in 1994 and has remained in office ever since, gradually tightening his grip on power and eventually transforming Belarus’ political system into an authoritarian regime. While any democratic transformation is still far from sight in Belarus today, with media freedom, human rights and other civil and political liberties being restricted and suppressed, the interest towards this country has recently resurfaced among its Western neighbors. Thus, in September 2019 the then US National Security Advisor John Bolton visited Minsk, thereby signifying renewal in American-Belarusian relations. Europe has also become more benign towards the Belarusian President, inviting him to a high-level Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels last year, which Lukashenka, however, did not attend. Nevertheless, he is expected to visit Vienna this November upon the invitation of the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.

The interest towards Belarus was more recently sparked by the debate whether it will become another state that Russia will try to annex according to the Crimea scenario. Belarus is a close ally of Russia, both in political and military terms. It is one of the founding states of the Eurasian Economic Union and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Economically, Belarus has for a long time profited from Russian loans and low gas and oil prices. The past year, however, has witnessed a series of conflicts in Russia-Belarus economic relations, with Moscow demanding deeper integration in exchange for favorable loans and cheap fuel. These disputes, if unresolved, will severely damage the unreformed Belarusian economy.

Along the discussions about sovereignty, the idea of neutrality for Belarus has also become more prominent. Belarus’ role of a facilitator in negotiations over the war in Eastern Ukraine has given rise to the emergence of a new identity of a neutral country and a platform for dialogue in the region. The Agreement concluded in Minsk in February 2015 represents the only roadmap for conflict resolution that both Russia and Ukraine have endorsed. The Belarusian capital has also become the venue of regular meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine (which includes OSCE, Russia and Ukraine).

In his talk at the IIP, Artyom Shraibman will speak about what the changing geopolitical situation in Europe means for Belarus and what role Minsk can play in shaping the emerging security order. Touching upon Belarus’ domestic politics, he will explain how they factor in Belarus’ relations with the West and Russia.


About the speaker

Artyom Shraibman is a Belarusian political analyst, contributor for TUT.BY and Artyom is a founder of Sense Analytics, a consultancy agency that provides comprehensive political analysis on Belarus. Previously he worked in political journalism in Belarus for more than 5 years. Artyom holds a LLb in International Law (Belarusian State University) and MSc in Politics and Communications (London School of Economics).

The Discussion will be held in English.


The IIP invites to snacks and drinks after the event!




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