EU policy towards Belarus: time for another reset?

Is “the last dictatorship in Europe” seeking a genuine agreement with the West?


Anna Maria Dyner (Analyst, Polish Institute of International Affairs)

Jörg Forbrig (Transatlantic Fellow, Director, Fund for Belarus Democracy, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Berlin Office)

Yaraslau Kryvoi (Director, Ostrogorski Centre; Editor-in-Chief, “Belarus Digest”)

Chaired by

Piotr Buras (Head of ECFR Warsaw Office)

The public debate “EU policy towards Belarus: time for another reset?” was organized by Warsaw Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in cooperation with

Alexander Lukashenka has recently released 6 political prisoners. Is it just a sham or maybe “the last dictatorship in Europe” is seeking a genuine agreement with the West? On the eve of the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus Lukashenka’s position remains undisputed. However, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has created an opportunity for a shift in the EU-Belarus relations: not only is Minsk afraid of Russian increasing assertiveness but it is facing serious economic problems due to the recession in Russia. Furthermore, in response to the risk concerning close ties with its Eastern neighbour, Lukashenka has started making efforts in order to enhance Belarusian identity and language. The EU’s strategy towards Belarus based on sanctions against the regime and its policy violating the rules of democracy and human rights has not been effective to date. Should EU change its approach in the face of the new geopolitical reality and Lukashenka’s recent actions? What could a reset in the relations with Belarus look like and how could it play out with the EU’s Eastern policy towards Russia, Ukraine and Eurasian Economic Union?

We recommend the analysis “From sanctions to summits: Belarus after the Ukraine crisis” by Yaraslau Kryvoi and Andrew Wilson.

The report of the held debate is available in Polish here.