Improvement becomes a philosophical matter, when it is about less repression in a country that barely has any political activity left to repress.
Belarus has seen no sign of change.
Wait. Signs, yes. Signs that Minsk wants to improve its relations with the West. Foreign minister Makey met foreign diplomats and some of his counterparts to announce that Minsk is seeking to rebuild its ties with united Europe.
There are signs that there can be change. But no changes so far. No ground-breaking economic or social reforms, political prisoners are still in prison, dissidents still in the underground.
Months ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in November, Lithuania is trying to make sure it is going to be a success: several important agreements (with Ukraine and Moldova) are to be signed and European political heavyweights will come together in Vilnius to celebrate EU politics on Eastern Europe.
Belarus is, of course, not the top of potential success stories on the agenda, Ukraine is far more important.
But to have political prisoners released and lay the ground to start a dialogue of any kind at all would be good. At any time. Even if it is tied to the EU political calendar. Or the decision of Minsk to balance its dependence on Russian support (as Moscow is pressing to privatise key assets to its investors).
But it is not that much about the exigency of improvements. Which are being sought and found.
As the EU offers Minsk a formula of “more for more and less for less.” The strategy of Minsk, as Belarusian experts put it, is “less for nothing.”
Both Minsk and Brussels have always had conditions to resume dialogue. And have resumed it several times. And broke it up again. I am afraid the point of the whole rapprochement is lost.
So… What is the goal? Does the EU want to have a dialogue with Belarusian authorities? Does it aim at profiting from intensifying co-operation?
If the objective is improvement of the political situation and legal framework in Belarus, there is definitely a need of a clear roadmap for both sides to follow, with a list of steps, concessions and such. Otherwise this stumbling block will be endlessly moved around.
You want to improve it? Prove it.