In recent years, the United States and Europe have achieved a degree of success in engaging Belarus through conditional diplomacy, bilateral cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation and the European Union’s Eastern Partnership framework. When the regime in Minsk, led by President Alexander Lukashenko, promised to open the December 2010 presidential election to international monitoring and to offer space for candidates from the democratic opposition to campaign, the U.S. and Europe hoped the election might create conditions that would allow a “reset” in future relations with the West. However, the election was marred by rampant fraud and followed by a violent government crackdown, quashing any hope for a continued thaw between Belarus and the West.
On February 2, the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings (CUSE) and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) hosted a discussion to examine the situation in Belarus, further policy options for the transatlantic partners and the likely long-term consequences of the recent democratic backsliding. The panel included presentations by two SAIS students who have recently visited Belarus as part of a study tour. Following the panelists’ remarks, Lawrence Silverman, director for Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, offered comments.
Mitchell Orenstein of SAIS provided introductory remarks and Brookings Senior Fellow and CUSE Director Fiona Hill moderated the discussion. After the program, the speakers took audience questions.