This is undoubtedly the most important initiative of Warsaw on the European platform since the Law and Justice Party (PiS) came to power in 2015. If it can be implemented, it will help to somewhat reduce the degree of controversy that has left an imprint on relations with Brussels over the past five years.
Like seven years ago, when it came to Ukraine, Poland offers a way out of the serious crisis that erupted in the immediate vicinity of the European Union. Vladimir Putin in Sochi offered Alexander Lukashenko a loan of $ 1.5 billion. The EU's proposal for Belarus should turn out to be even more attractive. A country on the brink of bankruptcy, which standard of living falls short of that of Mexico, could receive funds to rebuild.
The main points of the plan are as follows: the creation of a fund financed by the EU and the IMF to stabilize the economy, the opening of the European market for the export of Belarusian goods and services, the allocation of funds for the modernization of infrastructure, the abolition of visas to enter the Schengen zone.
Separate assistance programs will focus on diversifying sources of energy supplies, as well as supporting small and medium-sized businesses. In order for Belarus to develop its strengths, such as the IT industry, the EU would open its own market for it, which is 12 times larger than the Russian one.
"An example of this is Brussels' assistance to Poland in the 1990s, which helped us get back on our feet," our interlocutors say. There is only one condition: the holding of free presidential elections under the supervision of the OSCE.
“More and more people from Lukashenko’s entourage believe that the leader hated by the people is becoming a ballast and that agreements should be reached on his departure. The Polish plan might have seemed attractive to them,” our sources add. The Kremlin, in turn, would prefer to avoid costly military incursions into the territory of its western neighbor, which would turn Belarusians into opponents of Russia. Under certain conditions, Putin could agree to a change of power in Minsk, if this process was not carried out under direct pressure from the street.
This time, the project does not have a geopolitical sound: it does not mention an association agreement between Belarus and the EU, and even more so there are no proposals for the prospect of membership. Poland, on the one hand, does not want to provoke Russia, and on the other hand, hopes in this way to persuade the most skeptical countries of the European community to support Minsk. Two weeks ago, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said in an interview with El Pais that one should not make the mistakes made in relation to Ukraine in 2013.
Warsaw's diplomatic offensive is going well. On the eve of the summit of the European Union leaders, which is to be held on September 24, not only the countries of Central Europe declare their intention to support the program. Germany, currently holding the EU presidency, is also inclined towards this. After the assassination attempt on the Kremlin's main critic, Alexei Navalny, Chancellor Merkel must show that she is concerned about the protection of human rights in Eastern Europe. The Polish program is a much cheaper solution for Berlin than stopping the construction of Nord Stream 2.
Diplomatic sources say, however, that countries such as Cyprus, Greece and France want to link the approval of the plan for Belarus with an equally controversial response to Turkey's activity in the eastern Mediterranean. Nevertheless, earlier Poland managed to persuade even these states to convene a summit dedicated to Belarus on August 19.