Updated at 16:42,06-12-2016

Minsk finally gets interested in European dialogue on modernization

Belarus' foreign ministry sent out official letters with comments to EU member states.

The European Dialogue on Modernization with Belarusian society was launched by EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle on March 29, 2012.

The EU's initiative had remained largely unnoticed by Belarusian authorities until late January 2012 when the Belarusian MFA communicated its suggestions and demands on its participation in the program, Euroradio has learned.

"Belarus sent suggestions its suggestions indeed. Possibly some new information could appear on the results of the meeting being held in Tbilisi," EU delegation to Belarus wrote in an e-mail.

Political commentator Dzianis Melniatsou reckons Minsk is not satisfied with the fact that the 'Dialogue' is taking place only with representatives of Belarusian opposition and civil society. The government in Belarus suggests that the 'Dialogue' be renamed as 'Partnership for Modernization' similar to the model of Russia's cooperation with the EU.

Dzianis Melniatsou: "[Belarus government's] model envisages a working structure almost similar to the Eastern Partnership: regular meetings on the level of experts, ministers and the summit once a year. It envisages participation of only state agencies in the 'Partnership' when the depth of modernization is defined by the Belarusian side."

The Belarusian authorities also suggest that civil society be gradually involved to match the pace of the Partnership. And when they talk about civil society, Belarus authorities mean… business associations.

Why has Belarus got interestred in EU's initiative only almost one year after the launch? Political commentator Yury Shautsou reckons it is because of the Eastern Partnership summit to take place in November 2013 in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

Yury Shautsou: "This summit will possibly be very important. Anyway, there are certain circles in the Western diplomacy that regard this summit as extremely significant. Belarus as a participating nation in the Eastern Partnership also plays its own game around this summit."

It is yet to be understood when the EU will begin discussing the 'Dialogue' or the 'Partnership on Modernization with Belarus'. For example, Latvia's MEP Alexander Mirski finds it hard to share any details. He learned from Euroradio about the letter from Belarusian MFA. A week ago the politician was in Strasbourg but heard no discussions whatsoever on the "Belarusian letter."

Alexander Mirski: "Officially, this was not discussed a week ago. I was in Strasbourg from Monday through Thursday. Nobody said anything in this regard, yet I met quite a few MEPs who follow the situation in Belarus."