Andrei Yahorau: Trump winning the US presidential elections will change nothing for Belarus

Aliaksei Yurych, EuroBelarus Information Service

Trump may initiate a review of the entire package of sanctions previously imposed by the United States, but there will be no automatic lifting of sanctions against Belarus.

On November 8 USA citizens elected the Republican Donald Trump a new president, even though his rival Hillary Clinton won 100 thousand votes more.

How will the US foreign policy change after the billionaire populist winning the office? Andrei Yahorau, the Director of the Center for European Transformation, answered the questions of EuroBelarus Information Service.

— Why did America, a nation of pragmatists, elect a billionaire populist as its president?

— Leaving out the peculiarities of US electoral system (the majority of Americans gave their vote to Hillary Clinton, but Trump won the Electoral College), we can point out the general world trend of protest vote. The electorate voted against the establishment. The Americans did not vote for Trump and his policies, but against Hillary Clinton and the American political system in its traditional form. Trump was seen as an outsider who can come to bring something new, because people are tired of the old system.

— Observers note the absence of a comprehensive presidential team, the lack of a clear program. What will the relations between the new leader of the United States and the European Union be like?

— I think that the absence of his own team will force Trump to rely on the Republican party resources. Therefore, most likely Trump will keep on with the conservative policy. The signing of a transatlantic trade agreement is of the utmost importance today in the US-EU relations. The fate of this document is unclear as while Hillary Clinton advocated for the agreement, Trump attacked it. But it seems to me that in the long term there is no alternative to signing it: otherwise the global capitalist system will start unfolding to the South-East and China. For the EU and the US to strengthen their status of the economic superpowers in the global competition with the fast-growing Asian nations such an agreement is a strategic necessity. Thus, the parties will have to sign it sooner or later.

— President of Russia was one of the first to congratulate Trump on his win. What is your opinion on the suggestion that Trump intends to review and warm up the relations with Russia?

— The role of the president is quite important in the US foreign policy. But it’s the Congress that has the policies implementation tools and that controls the budget. Of course, the reconciliatory rhetoric of Trump about friendship with all the countries that want to be US friend is quite bothering. On the one hand, they pronounce the openness of the US policy, but it is unclear what will happen to the old policy of the country, which was based on the value approach, human rights, non-infringement of the basic principles of international law. At any rate the Congress will be in charge of the decision making on such important issues as imposing and lifting sanctions from particular countries.

— The priorities of the US foreign policy include the conflict in Ukraine, Syria, relations with China; Belarus is not on the priority list. But as the former White House administration paid attention to the official Minsk, the current leader of America will have to address the “Belarusan issue”.

— American policy is not that important for our region, aside from, perhaps, Ukraine. America has been trying to shuffle off responsibility for the region to the EU for a long time. This decision was prompted by the objective interests of the United States as well: when determining the geopolitical priorities (choosing between Eastern Europe, Post-Soviet states and Southeast Asia) South Pacific region is more relevant to the US, and its importance will only increase in the coming years.

In fact, Trump winning the US presidential elections will change nothing for Belarus, there will be no sharp turn in American policy. I do not believe that the US will lift sanctions against the official Minsk just because Trump came to power. Though Trump may initiate a review of the entire package of sanctions previously imposed by the United States.