Minsk seeks Tbilisi’s assistance in settling relations with West
At the opening of the 2nd session of the Belarusian-Georgian intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation, the committee’s chairman, Belarus’ Agriculture and Foodstuffs Minister Leonid Zayats said that President Lukashenko was planning his first official visit to Georgia in April 2015. Belarus seeks to strengthen cooperation with other Post-Soviet countries in order to dilute the pressure from the Kremlin. The president may also be expecting a zealous reaction from the Kremlin, which could help him to obtain financial support in exchange for a demonstration of loyalty. In addition, the Belarusian authorities continue sending signals to Western capitals, implying that they seek to reduce Belarus’ dependence on Russia by increasing contacts with ’’pro-Western’’ Kiev and Tbilisi. They also expect Ukrainian and Georgian leaders to help normalising Belarus’ relations with the EU and the US.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.