TCS Daily

Bad Neighbor Policy

By Janusz Onyszkiewicz, MEP - March 17, 2006 12:00 AM

The EU is already facing security problems related to the growth of international terrorism as well as the threat of instability in the Middle East and in North African countries, which may dramatically affect the energy supplies to the whole region. With its enlargement the EU added another potential challenge to its security and development looming in the three post-Soviet countries of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.

By helping to stabilize the political situation in Ukraine and by involving the Transdniestrian authorities in the peace process with Moldova, the EU managed to cool the temperature and bring down tensions in the region. But it has had less success in Belarus, where a realism-based security policy, with its firm system of values and clear code of conduct, has done little to reduce the hostility of Belarusian regime. Belarus remains both a potential and actual security threat to the EU. Generous assistance and a favorable economic policy towards the incumbent regime has helped preserve and even improve the economic situation in Belarus, while exerting little influence over the mindset and attitudes of the political elites. The policy of economic appeasement has only delayed the outbreak of potential conflict which we are witnessing now.

The dictatorial nature of the Belarusian regime puts the military development of the country above economic or intellectual development. The stable-to-improving economic situation allows Belarus to keep its army in good shape. It is worth remembering that under the terms of the treaty on conventional forces in Europe (CFE) Belarus has more tanks than France and the United Kingdom put together. Obliged by its constitution to adhere to neutrality, Belarusian authorities nevertheless maintain close military cooperation on all levels with all post-Soviet countries of similar political systems. Belarus has signed with the Russian Federation a pact on common air defense under a joint (in practice - Russian) command. This keeps the Belarus forces not only technically but also operationally integrated with the Russian army. Quite recently Belarus acquired the unique SS-300 anti-aircraft systems, and allowed Russia to maintain its nuclear submarines communication and early-warning air-defense stations in Belarus.

The EU would be happy to have along its borders countries which are strong enough to protect themselves, but in the case of Belarus we can often see quite a provocative and offensive behavior towards various EU member states, and sometimes rather coarse demonstrations of military muscle. Despite the availability in Belarus of a well-trained and high-morale 80,000-man army, the possibility of an open Belarus-EU armed conflict is close to zero. What is worrying is the atmosphere there of a threat allegedly coming from West, which is partly due to the Cold War mindset of both the Russian and Belarusian military. To illustrate this it is enough to mention the scenarios of the joint Russo-Belarusian military exercises, which recall similar exercises during the Warsaw Pact.

Now social unrest, which could foster more instability and insecurity, has erupted. So-called soft-security issues could also have a similar effect. The anti-democratic regime of a country of the size of Belarus could easily generate instability through such instruments as drug trafficking, sheltering of criminals and illegal immigrants. In the last decade Belarus has entered the list of top 10 arms exporting countries in the world, yet it is exporting its arms primarily to the countries under UN arms-export embargo like Iraq or to open armed conflict areas like countries of former Yugoslavia. Already at the end of the 1990s some EU member states' intelligence services noted increasing contacts between Belarusian officials and terrorist groups, not to mention the worst dictatorial regimes in the world. In recent years we have witnessed numerous cases of illegal immigrants coming directly from Belarus, despite the fact that the EU invests millions of euro every year in border controls.

During the 2003 Belarus-Russia gas-dispute, Belarus, unlike recently Ukraine, did not waste much time seeking a compromise. It began to take the gas transported to the EU and paid for by the EU, causing a serious energy security problem in few neighboring countries and particularly in Poland.

The history of EU-Belarus relations shows that regardless of the friendly approach to Alexander Lukashenka after he took office, his drive towards dictatorship and growing criticism of this trend resulted in the hostile approach of the regime towards the EU. Now, more than ever before, the security threat posed by Belarusian politics is a serious regional issue.

The EU has tried all possible approaches towards Belarus except, until recently, the promotion of democracy, believing that the good relations with the regime, regardless its nature, were automatically boosting security. It is clear now, that this has not been the right approach. Now we see how democracy-building in Ukraine and Moldova has diminished all kinds of security threats in the region. Perhaps the time has finally come for the EU to understand that the policy it has been avoiding for so long should be implemented.

The author is a Vice-President of the European Parliament.

1 Comment

The missing element in every human 'solution' is
an accurate definition of the creature.

Many problems in human experience are the result of
false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
ence intent on the development of perceptive
awareness and the following acts of decision and
choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
making process and include the cognition of self,
the utility of experience, the development of value-
measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
ation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however
marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
highest expression of the creative process.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
singular and plural brow.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV


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