Approval of the Social and Economic Development Programme
Alexander Lukashenko signed the 2011-2015 Social and Economic Development Programme, which was part of his election campaign.
The Programme envisages that in the following five years, the GDP will grow by 62-68%, industrial output by 80-90%, and capital investment by 90-97%. By 2015 the country will reach a surplus in foreign trade by 0,5-0,6% of the GDP (currently a deficit of 15%). The active income will be increased by 70-76%.
It is planned that the financing of investment and the production rate growth will be achieved due to credits and external resources. Obviously, the burden will fall on the banking sector, as well as on the state budget of Belarus, which will be forced to partially compensate the interest rates to provide these resources. There is a big question mark so far regarding the attraction of foreign investments.
Adoption of an a priori impracticable Programme could be explained by bureaucracy or by lack of resources for development of a new one, as well as by inability/unwillingness to acknowledge openly the failure of the previous development paradigm and the need for painful and unpopular structural reforms, which will result in lower revenues and increased unemployment. Moreover, it is also likely that the authorities hope to receive stabilization loans or to sell part of the state property and to “skip through” (with minimal reforms implemented) the troubles against the background of the increasing world prices and changes of the world’s geopolitical situation. In any case, the implementation of the Programme is not feasible, even with the parameters of macroeconomic policies Belarus has offered to Russia.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.