Events: Minsk after Riga: Forum about reforms or how Belarus can develop in new regional contexts and adapt to them

International conference «Minsk after Riga: Forum about reforms or how Belarus can develop in new regional contexts and get used to them » took place on the 28th and 29th of May in Minsk.

The conference was organized by BISS and Latvian Embassy in Belarus with the assistance of the Office for a Democratic Belarus (Brussels). It was held as a part of an action plan under the guidance of Latvian Republic Presidency in the Council of the European Union collaboratively with the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus.

The objective of the conference was to facilitate expert discussions concerning ways of Belarus’s development in today’s fast-paced contexts. The Republic of Belarus along with the EU is in search for new, mutually-acceptable forms of partnership, as a part of the Eastern Partnership initiative as well. At the same time, the future of Eurasian integration is indeterminate. Conflict escalation between Russia and the West concerning the situation in Ukraine, crisis evolvement, geopolitical issues – all these made the themes of the conference extremely topical.

The participants discussed:

- Options for Belarus in the context of Ukraine’s conflict, and the new challenges for the country’s national security;

- Regional economic crisis and how it affects Belarus;

- Relations with the EU, international organizations, Eurasian Economic Union and Russia;

- Opportunities for reforms in Belarus according to the results of the BISS’s research under «REFORUM» project.

The representatives of the Belarus’s MFA, the EU Delegation and Russian expert community opened the conference and its first session «Belarus in geopolitical contexts».

During the first day experts worked in the two following panels: «Belarus and the EAEU: integration and consequences of Russian crisis» and «Belarus and the EU: is there a new agenda?»

The discussions during the second day focused on the question «Does Belarus really need reforms?» and explored opportunities for country’s modernization.  Further proceedings of the conference were devoted to concrete reforms proposals, presented by the expert groups of the «REFORUM», aimed at modernization of Belarusian legislature in the following spheres:

1. Educational reform;

2. Attraction of foreign direct investments;

3. Reform of media sphere. Protection of national information space: challenges and solutions.

4. Reforms in favor of business.

The representatives of Belarusian expert community, diplomatic corps, mass media, civil society together with international and government experts contributed to the work of the conference.