Instructions for overthrow

Bertelsmann foundation draws up strategy paper for political change of power in belarus

The bertelsmann foundation recently presented a strategy paper entitled "towards a coherent eu strategy for belarus" aims to bring about a regime change in lukashenko’s byelorussia. The paper was developed at a workshop in vilnius, lithuania, in early february, which was prepared in cooperation with the lithuanian ministry of auben. In addition to representatives of the belarusian opposition, representatives of the eu commission and the eu council participated as observers.

The ambitious paper has so far been overlooked in the german media; only a german-language internet newspaper published in russia mocked the ambitions of the gutersloh-based. By the way, the weibrussia paper is not unusual – since 1993, the bertelsmann foundation has already presented numerous strategy papers on eu aubenpolitik (see also bertelsmann): "nothing works without bertelsmann").

The paper is prompted by the successful overthrow of the orange opposition in ukraine. Now the bertelsmann foundation considers it to be a "obvious necessity", a "ambitious, fast, well-coordinated and effective strategy" whose measures are to develop a "immediate and direct influence" on the upcoming presidential elections in belarus, which will be held next year – and are expected to give the dictatorial alexander lukashenko a third term in office (in the service of the people)

European union should change financing rules

The current approaches of the european union’s policy in belarus are not sufficient, the paper states. For example, funds from the european initiative for democracy and human rights (eidhr) are only available from 2006, while funds from the tacis office are earmarked for countries that adhere to the eu’s rules and regulations – which is obviously not the case with belarus. The paper therefore calls for a change in the rules to allow democratization projects to be demanded without the consent of the government.

In this way, the eu commission, with the support of the european commission "of some interested member states" a "external fund for belarus" to support belarusian opposition forces, which could be led from neighboring states such as lithuania or poland. This could then be done within the "strict guidelines" of the commission.

The paper also suggests the establishment of a "european house" the paper therefore calls for a change in the rules to allow the eu to call for democratization projects without the government’s consent. The establishment of a think tank in neighboring lithuania is being considered. It then also had the task of supporting pro-european campaigns by youth and student movements – but also "negative mobilization campaigns" are to be set in motion. Finally, the eu should appoint a special envoy for belarus to give voice and face to this strategy "a voice and a face" lends. In addition, various initiatives are to become involved in the medium to long term, for example in the field of education, small and medium-sized enterprises and chernobyl-related projects.

Instructions for overthrow

In the two-page appendix, the bertelsmann paper lists concrete proposals for action, reminiscent of the recently successful overthrow in kiev. In the first place, the support of opposition media and civil society organizations – which, however, in view of the already offensive driving of the belarusian media, was not allowed to be very easy. An awareness campaign is to make the european union and its values visible in belarus. In education, funds for study abroad and cultural exchange are to be increased. Especially non-governmental organizations dealing with problems around chernobyl should be supported. Special educational programs are to teach the advantages of democratic and market economy achievements, using the example of the new eu accession countries poland and lithuania.

Before the presidential elections in 2006, european politicians had to show their presence in belarus. They should support the identification and selection of a single opposition candidate – the problem at present is a fragmented opposition. The latter has announced its intention to agree on a candidate in may. It is already accommodating the europeans – with an electoral congress in a western foreign country.

The elections also had to be supervised and democratic forces supported: thus, the establishment of analysis centers should be supported, opinion polls should be conducted regularly. Finally, the election campaign should also be directly supported: for meetings of the democratic campaigners are to be rented premises, travel expenses reimbursed, technical equipment provided, campaign material provided and political platforms abroad provided.

In addition, international prere on the regime should be maintained. Solidarity funds to support regime victims. At the moment, the eu has imposed a visa ban on belarus – which could be used for the "average" weibrusses could loosen. In addition, a strategy for the period after the elections is to be prepared.

Closing ranks with us policy

On the occasion of bush’s visit to bratislava, the discussions about the question of the "how to learn from ukraine" continued at a conference. By the way, this was supported by the german marshall fund – which also works closely with the bertelsmann foundation.

Official eu policy is still pursuing a fairly conciliatory path with the paper rough europe – neighborhood. However, the bertelsmann foundation already put its strategy paper on the agenda of the eu council of ministers meeting in vilnius in mid-february as a "impulse" and hopes that benita ferrero-waldner, the new eu commissioner for foreign relations, will be receptive.