Lukashenko’s government believes that the EU will not take any decisive actions in response to the repression occurring in Belarus. Furthermore, it will not impose an economic embargo.
Belarus intends to achieve as much as possible in terms of its relations with the EU. Its aim is to force the EU to adopt their model for the long-term development of the relationship, which includes expanding trade and economic cooperation, granting investments, obtaining concessionary loans and technologies. At the same time, the agenda will not cover issues related to political liberalization.
Lukashenko’s regime offers the EU closer cooperation which would be conditional on the provisions of the particular geopolitical contract. This suggests that Belarus needs to be appreciated as an independent state and, even if ruled by Lukashenko, it is somehow making approaches to the West. Belarus is a participant in the Eastern Partnership initiative; Belarus has extended an invitation to Western business; Belarus does not agree to compromise with Russia.
The minimum objective of Lukashenko’s regime is to suppress the opposition without any significant counteraction from the West. Minsk has shown the EU its vision of political liberalization: the release of political prisoners from throughout the entire period of Lukashenko’s rule. All of this has happened without any political changes in Belarus.
The EU has responded weakly to the challenge issued by Lukashenko’s regime. As the power base expected, the only restrictions introduced by the EU included visa bans.