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No other choice but co-operation. The background of Lithuania's and Latvia's relations with Belarus. OSW Commentary No. 99, 2013-01-04

Klysinski, Kamil (2013) No other choice but co-operation. The background of Lithuania's and Latvia's relations with Belarus. OSW Commentary No. 99, 2013-01-04. [Policy Paper]

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    For years now Belarus has been a key economic partner for Lithuania and Latvia. These two Baltic states have well-developed port infrastructure and thus provide what are the geographically closest and also the cheapest exit to international outlets for Belarusia’s petrochemical and chemical industries, both of which are export-oriented. As a result, the transit of Belarusian goods is one of the major sources of income for the state budgets of the two countries. This economic interdependence has affected the stance Riga and Vilnius take on Minsk at the EU forum. When in February and March 2012 the Council of the European Union was resolving the issue of imposing economic sanction on selected Belarusian companies which backed Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime, this triggered a discussion on what the point of such measures is and on possible economic losses in Lithuania and Latvia. As a result of firm resistance from Latvia (which was backed by Slovenia), the Council removed those companies which were most strongly engaged in co-operation with Latvian partners from the list of those to be covered with economic sanctions. Lithuania, which is more critical of the political situation in Belarus, did not express its official opposition to the sanctions. Despite some differences in the policies adopted by Riga and Vilnius, it turned out that Minsk could count on strong support from local business groups in both of these countries, as these groups fear impediments in this highly profitable co-operation and also retaliation from the Belarusian government. The existing economic bonds mean that neither Vilnius nor Riga have any other choice but to co-operate with Belarus. They must therefore adopt a carefully balanced policy towards Minsk. At the same time, being EU member states, they do not officially deny that a problem exists with the violation of human rights by Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime. It is for this reason that the governments of Latvia and Lithuania will be interested in maintaining the status quo in relations with Minsk. On the other hand, Belarus in a way also has no other choice but to use the ports in Lithuania and Latvia, and this will prevent it from excessively escalating tension in relations with these two countries.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > energy policy (Including international arena)
    Countries > Latvia
    Countries > Lithuania
    Countries > Belarus
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 16:58
    Number of Pages: 7
    Last Modified: 09 Dec 2014 16:58

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