Belarus has seen very little political change since gaining its independence in 1990, in spite of a warming in relations with the European Union (EU), which has recently ended visa bans and unfrozen the assets of 170 senior Belarusian officials, note analysts Martin Miszerak and Dalibor Rohac. With the 12-year-old Nikolay Lukashenko being visibly groomed for a leadership role by his father, President Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus remains Europe’s most bizarre political regime, steeped in Soviet nostalgia. Can it survive in today’s economic climate? they ask in The Financial Times:
Back in the 1990s, Lukashenko forcefully rejected market reforms embraced by other post-communist economies and instead placed his country on a path that combined autocratic government with a dominant state ownership of the economy. Today, it is clear that without deep reforms, Europe’s hermit kingdom cannot continue on that path. It remains an open question whether the Lukashenko dynasty can pull off the necessary economic reforms without opening the country up politically as well – and losing its hold on power.
Martin Miszerak chief exectuive of Miszerak & Associates and a former privatisation adviser to the Polish government. Dalibor Rohac is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.