Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Forum of Political Opposition and Civil Society to focus on media and education reforms

By Artsyom Shraybman, BelaPAN

The Forum of Political Opposition and Civil Society has decided to focus on media and education reforms during the next stage of its work.

During a meeting in Minsk on Tuesday, the Forum shortened the list of reform priorities drawn up at the first meeting, which took place on June 2. The list initially included reform of the pension system, housing policy and electoral regulations as well as the liberalization of foreign trade.

Attending Tuesdays meeting were representatives of the United Civic Party, the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left, the Belarusian Popular Front, Belarusian Christian Democracy, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, the Assembly of Pro-Democratic Non-Governmental Organizations, Belarus National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, and other organizations.

Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP), expressed dissatisfaction with the meeting. In a statement on the UCP website, Mr. Lyabedzka said that the most important thing for Belarus was to hold democratic elections and not to reform its media sector and education system. He said that the party would like to distance itself from the choir singing, Let us not irritate the authorities and might quit the Forum altogether.

The Forum of Political Opposition and Civil Society was established within the framework of Reforum, a project coordinated by the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS) with support from the European Union.

BISS analyst Dzyanis Melyantsow said that Reforum was aimed at attracting proposals for reforms in Belarus. During four six-month cycles each of the four entities involved in the projectthe opposition and civil society, the government, the business community and the publicis to propose four priority areas for reforms and 16 for projects.

The proposals are to be selected by a council that consists of opposition and civil society figures and representatives of the BISS and the European Union`s Delegation to Belarus.

BISS Academic Director Alyaksey Pikulik said that it was not experts but rather representatives of the "four target audiences" who would propose specific reforms.

Ihar Lyalkow, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front, was elected chairman of the Forum of Political Opposition and Civil Society.