The Belarusian launch of the Eastern Partnership Index illustrating the degree of approximation of the Eastern Partnership countries to the norms and standards of the EU took place in Minsk on 12 May. Belarus has shown progress in sustainable development, however, the country is lagging behind in almost all other indicators.
The presentation in Minsk was delivered by Andrei Yahorau, Director of the Center for European Transformation, and Olga Smolyanka, lawyer and expert from the Legal Transformation Center “Lawtrend». The event was attended by the representatives of the EaP CSF Steering Committee, the European Union embassies, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry and non-governmental organisations.
“Belarus is the EaP country the least committed to adapting regulations, especially in the field of human rights and democracy, – said the expert Andrei Yahorau at the presentation, – In the process of approximation to the EU, Belarus is only ahead of Azerbaijan, mainly due to the contacts between people.”
He underlined that the mission of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum is the European integration of the EaP countries and it is declared as the goal of the Forum to be measured and explored to demonstrate the convergence.
On 12-13 April, the EaP CSF Steering Committee gathered in Minsk for the first time to discuss the pressing issues and meet with the Belarusian National Platform (BNP). During the first day of the meeting, SC members discussed improving the efficiency of the Forum. The actions and messages for specific policy campaigns, as well as the EaP CSF image campaign were elaborated. The selection process for the participants of the Annual Assembly, internal reform proposals, upcoming meetings of the Working Groups, and the re-granting process were the main issues discussed on the second day.
Eventually, the SC members shared views with the Belarusian National Platform on the state of the EaP, the situation in Belarus and the priorities for 2018. At the meeting between the EaP CSF Steering Committee and Belarusian National Platform Mr Yahorau outlined the main points on the developments in the EU-Belarus relations. He noted the deplorable trend of decreasing EU transformation ambitions while stressing that the civil society is working towards the ultimate goal of the European integration. According to the expert, the role of the EaP CSF is to insist on tangible reforms, not just symbolic steps. The Forum was mentioned in all the EaP Summit’s Declarations however it needs to be among implementers of the 2020 EaP Deliverables. Unfortunately, the government is not committed to the bona fide implementation of the roadmaps on human rights and rule of law.