The Belarusian Issue in European Affairs

Trapara, Vladimir (2021) The Belarusian Issue in European Affairs. In: Europe in changes: The old continent at a new crossroads. Institute of International Politics and Economics, Belgrade; Faculty of Security Studies at the University of Belgrade, Belgrade, pp. 307-322. ISBN 978-86-7067-282-6

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Belarus – an East European country, but actually located in the geographical centre of Europe – in 2020 topped the agenda of political affairs on the continent by facing the biggest political crisis since its independence, triggered by President Lukashenko’s election fraud and massive citizens’ protests that followed. Though domestic in nature, this crisis has huge implications for broader European affairs, due to the geopolitical position of Belarus between Russia and the political West. However, the explanation of the essence of the Belarusian issue which culminated in the mentioned presidential crisis – which is the central research goal in this paper – cannot rest solely on issues of geopolitics and authoritarianism. It requires a deeper historical analysis of the identity of the state of Belarus and Belarusians as a nation, as well as consideration of the role of Lukashenko in this context. The main thesis of the paper is that Belarus has an unusually weak and unfinished national identity, close to Russia, but marked by a long period of detachment from it. The secret of Lukashenko’s longevity in power is a congruence of his political philosophy with this identity and a wider obsession of Belarusians with political stability and personal well-being. Namely, his failure to deliver these values led his political fate to a dead- end in 2020 and stressed the significance of the Belarusian issue for wider European affairs. Yet, Lukashenko’s possible resignation does not bring a solution because the weak identity of Belarusians would still make them victims of the ongoing European geopolitical divide.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Uncontrolled Keywords: Belarus, Lukashenko, 2020 presidential crisis, national identity, geopolitics, authoritarianism, Russia-Western relations
Depositing User: Ana Vukićević
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2022 10:01
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2022 10:01

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