The Belarusian public is well aware of all advantages and disadvantages of the country's possible accession to the European Union, Vital Silitski, director of the Vilnius-based Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research, told reporters in Minsk on Tuesday, as quoted by BelaPAN.
Mr. Silitski unveiled the findings of a survey carried out by the institute at the beginning of this year. A total of 1,071 people were interviewed.
He said that the interviewees were "cautiously optimistic" about the improvement of the quality of life and living standards following Belarus' admission to the EU but said that it would lead to higher inflation and unemployment, as well as a more intensive brain drain and inflow of migrants from third countries. "At the same time, the public does not expect the industrial sector's collapse or the loss of national independence as a result of integration with the EU," he stressed.
More than 70 percent of the respondents said that they expected the country's accession to the EU to entail an increase in prices and roughly the same proportion said that utility bills would rise, according to Mr. Silitski.
Nearly 45 percent said that living standards in Belarus would improve if it joined the EU, while almost half of the interviewees expressed certainty that EU membership would help improve the quality of healthcare services in Belarus. As many as 49.9 percent said that they expected the human rights situation to improve.
"These expectations reflect in many ways the actual experience of Belarus' neighbors who have recently joined the EU, the balance of what they have won and lost," Mr. Silitski said.
The expert stressed that the Belarusians were not too enthusiastic about Belarus' possible admission to the EU.