Belarus before and after 19 March - Possible scenarios

In Short:

This new policy brief, written by Jakub Boratynski, Grzegorz Gromadzki and Wojciech Kononczuk and published by the Batory Foundation, presents the possible scenarios which could develop in Belarus before and after the presidential elections. It also analyses the regime and the opposition's activities.

I. Scenarios

* It is difficult to predict how the situation in Belarus will develop, hence the need to prepare several scenarios of events for both pre- and post-elections time.

* Yet before the elections the EU (the Austrian presidency) should issue a statement condemning Belarusian authorities' actions against the opposition (arrests, beatings, confiscation of elections materials etc.) and, above all, warn the Lukashenka regime that using force against peaceful demonstrations will meet with a particularly harsh response of the EU.

* The EU should be prepared to undertake specific measures, which will be applied adequately to the development of events. And more so because the EU (the Austrian presidency) threatened that it "will take further restrictive measures against the responsible individuals if the elections are not conducted according to international standards and in line with Belarus' commitments in the OSCE." This warning cannot remain an empty threat.

* Relatively few possibilities stay at the EU's disposal, as far as potential sanctions against the Lukashenka regime are concerned. Many diplomatic sanctions are out of question - Belarus' relations with the EU are frozen (e.g. the PCA is not binding) and the country is not a member of the Council of Europe. This is why the EU cannot put pressure on the Belarusian regime e.g. by threatening to suspend its membership in the Council of Europe or to limit relations with the EU. Having little room for manoeuvre the EU must carefully think over application of particular sanctions and which of them should be applied in different scenarios. Majority of applicable sanctions (e.g. visa restrictions for representatives of the regime) should be introduced in every of the following scenarios. The question is scope of their application.

* Apart from negative actions against the regime a positive response for the opposition (which is at least equally important) should be thought over. The response should vary depending on the scale of the authorities' repressions against the opposition.

* Several detailed scenarios are presented below - arranged in the order of their probability. Each of them comes with potential negative and positive actions of the EU.

To read the policy brief in full, visit the Batory Foundation website.