Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

The region is developing, yet Belarus is still resisting to any change

EuroBelarus Information Service

According to the experts, the Belarusian authorities are focused on preserving the socio-economic system, which at the same time is obviously becoming degraded.

Introducing another book of complex analysis of the situation in the most important segments of the state and society "Belarusian Yearbook 2015", its editor and compiler Valeria Kostiugova emphasized that for the second year in a row, "basically all major trends, marked by the experts in each field can be referred to as the resistance to changes". At the same time, noted Kostiugova, the state perceives these changes as those inspired from the outside. The main actors are trying to keep their positions, but "it is clear that the region is developing, yet Belarus is still resisting to any changes." According to Kostiugova, the trend to resist the changes will continue until the end of the year, but "the balance will change, as there is not enough money, not enough people to maintain the current state; in the spring of 2017 changes will be obvious."

According to the expert community, in 2015, three processes defined Belarus’ political agenda: presidential elections, normalization of relations with the West and the economic crisis.

Belarus presidential campaign was accompanied by massive fraud and other violations, as reported by observers, but "conflict-free atmosphere in which the elections took place, as well as the release of political prisoners contributed to the normalization of relations with the EU and the United States." The official Minsk has achieved greatest success in the field of foreign policy. Its neutral position with regard to the conflicts initiated by Russia that Belarus has been holding to since 2013, got stronger in 2015.

But, as the authors of the book emphasize, " however, foreign policy successes, had no effect on the main problem - the degradation of the socio-economic system." "The lack of political will for reform, together with waiting tactics that compensates for the lack of strategic development plan, have led to the aggravation of the crisis phenomena, - says the letter of the editor. - The authorities compensated for the decline of the economy by tightening control, increasing levies from the business and citizens, and further dropping of social obligations of the state. "

"2015 was largely a payback for the reluctance of the authorities to adapt the national economy to modern conditions. Structural weaknesses supplemented by external shocks put the economy into a deep recession. The reaction of the economic authorities was to revise macroeconomic policy without the institutional reforms, which wasn’t enough to quickly overcome the recession,"- emphasized one of the authors of the book, BEROC researcher Dzmitry Kruk. According to him, the recession pointed out the new vulnerabilities of the Belarusian economy: rapid growth of troubled assets of banks and burden of the foreign debt. "These problems might turn into a "recessionary spiral", causing a long way out of the recession or even its further deepening," - says Kruk.

The economist noted that we shouldn’t consider external debts of the country, whereas Belarus expects the IMF decision to grant the loan, as a factor that could force the authorities to change the system. "Now external loaning is not as critical as it was in 2010-2012. It used to be like that to support the exchange rate, which has been a pillar of economic policy. Now loans are only needed to pay the old debts, "- said Dzmitry Kruk.

The head of Belarus Security Blog research project Andrei Porotnikov called the 2015 the "year of a strategic pause, as the Belarusian authorities managed to stay away from the external confrontation, which continues in the region." However, according to the analyst, the issue of the Russian air base in Belarus remains. "Let me recall that three most influential people in Russia - Putin, Medvedev, and Shoigu – put their signatures at the draft project of the airbase. And it is unlikely that the Belarusian authorities can come off it that easy", - Porotnikov said. "Another interesting trend, which appeared in 2015, is the turn towards Asia. Three representative visits took place in 2015 – to Turkey, India and Pakistan. This is a long-term strategy, and I think, that in the near future it will be interesting to watch the development of contacts with Turkey that is led by ambitious and ideologically motivated people. This country is an economic giant that sees itself differently than the West is used to think of it,"- said Porotnikov.

As for the state of Belarusian society in the past year, the head of the NovAK laboratory, sociologist Andrei Vardamatski assumes that "Belarusians demonstrate unprecedented achievements in adapting to the ever-deteriorating economic situation." "We believe that this conclusion – adaptation without borders – is the main characteristic of the Belarusian society in 2015," - sums up Andrei Vardamatski.