Posts Tagged EU Belarus Dialogue on Modernisation
So now it is finally clear. Minsk can’t meet the EU half-way and release political prisoners, because it knows what demand will come next: this Gayropa will want Belarus to legalise gay marriages, said FM Makey. Oh no, same-sex marriages, quelle horreur!
Lukashenko believes it’s better to be a dictator than to be gay; (bare-chested) Putin says that homosexuals are a threat to national security and compares gay marriages to worshiping Satan.
The Russian Orthodox Church (which in Belarus doesn’t say anything against capital punishment) views gay parades as homosexual propaganda.
Nato used to be the main worry for Eastern Europe. Now the scarecrows are neo-fascists and gays, two “threats” imposed by the West which undermine traditional Christian values and, while they should be mutually exclusive, work together well and reinforce each other as anti-West propaganda.
This Freudian fear of the unknown is very characteristic of post-Soviet societies, which have long refined themselves within hermetic borders with the help of sterile, state-controlled media.
After the Berlin Wall collapsed together with the ruined economies of the Iron Curtain states, Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians are not afraid of modernisation, free trade or any economic benefits coming from the West. But homosexuals! And fascists, which were defeated 70 years ago.
The key difference between Eastern and Western Europe? Spirituality and love thy neighbour versus capitalism, where homo homini lupus est … in a nutshell: an orthodox society of happy families versus homosexual fascists, boom!
Russian neo-nationalistic Drang nach Osten drives fellow citizens away from domestic problems and unites former Soviet countries around caring Mother Russia in an emotional, irrational way. Timid tax-payers forget about low salaries, bad roads, corrupt officials, police and courts; their alcoholised, down-and-out populations … and it works! People of different origin and walks of life are conservative and intolerant enough to be mesmerised by the idea that gays are a weapon of mass destruction.
So dear spin doctors, now teach EU representatives not to use words like “reforms”, “freedoms” and “rights”. They are too gay for Eastern Europe.
It sounds familiar in 2013: Belarus is aiming high. It plans to have 8.5 percent GDP growth and it has unveiled a big-hearted programme on modernisation, social housing, wage growth and debt repayment. After another period of turning its back on the West, it also says it wants to get back to the negotiating table.
But time is a river, you cannot really step into the same water twice. Yes, the average wage is back to $500/month. Meanwhile, prices keep growing. Stable, but low is the President’s popularity rate, at just 30 percent.
So who can help with a bit of cash to keep ambitious plans alive? It is Russia and/or the West.
Moscow already owns the gas pipelines that run through Belarus. It does want to see more extensive privatisation. But with oil prices going down, its support is also dwindling, be it in the form of Russian oil which Belarus refines and sells on, cheap gas, loans or, more simply, in terms of Russian demand for Belarusian exports.
The EU is a rich neighbor. It also has the means to help modernise industry and to bring private sector investment. But it wants Belarus to free political prisoners and to see economic and political reform.
So today it is cheaper to come to terms with the West. You release the inmates and you pick up the discourse of yes-we-want-to-be-your-democratic-friend.
The Russians want the family jewels, and you can only sell those once.
However, the EU might be less easy to fool after the violent post-election crackdown in December 2010 than it used to be. Lukashenko can put on his poker face. But he has already showed his cards.
Let’s wait and see who outwit the others.
The game is: promise more and give less. Complain about the iron fist of Russia but reap the benefits of its Eurasian Union project. Release dissidents and arrest new ones. Rinse and repeat.