Alena Zuikova: Belarus has reached its limit as a recipient of foreign aid

Piotr Kuchta, EuroBelarus Information Service

But the analyst of the Centre for European Transformation admits the potential of Belarus as a recipient of foreign aid is quite big, however if there are no reforms there will be no realization of this potential.

Centre for European Transformation has prepared a new analytical paper  based on the results of the donor aid system research for Belarus and the role civil society occupies in it.

The document presents the large picture of foreign aid Belarus received during the period of 2006-2014.

This research is a continuation of the Center for European Transformation research made in 2013 and 2014 and follows their general logic. The overall figures show that Belarus has received donor support of over one billion US dollars (1,037 million.) in the period 2006-2014.

Alena Zuikova, one of the authors of the research, an analyst at the Centre for European Transformation, Master of Political Science, spoke about the main results of the study in her interview with the EuroBelarus Information Service.

“In my opinion, our research clearly shows that Belarus has reached its limit as a recipient of foreign aid. If there are no reforms in the country, it’s pointless to expect any changes in the donor aid issue. Let’s have a closer look at the following numbers: the volume of annual aid provided to Belarus has not increased since 2010 — it is maintained at the level of about 125 million dollars per year. At the same time our potential opportunities are countless,” points out Alena Zuikova.

Moreover, it is significant that almost all donors implement their projects without directing money to the Belarusan authorities. “Of all the assistance provided to Belarus, there is very little money going to reforming, building new institutions for the development of market economy — i.e., to those areas where most donor funds are directed in other countries of the Eastern Partnership. In our case, 90% of aid is realized by the donors themselves and in general these are projects outside Belarus, for example, educational programs for the Belarusans in Western universities,” highlighted Alena Zuikova.

According to the analyst there is “a minimum necessary number of projects, which the EU cannot afford ignoring. These are projects of general interest, such as border management, security, border crossings improvement, ecological projects and green economy projects. The EU implements them not due to a special sentiment for Belarus, but just because it is in the best interest of EU,” explained the researcher.

As for the opportunities, just have a look at the amount of aid received by other participating countries of the Eastern Partnership. “In particular, Belarus has received 150 million dollars over 9 years from the EU institutions; at the same time Ukraine has been allocated more than 2 billion dollars. That means the bigger amounts of donor aid go to the countries carrying out reforms,” Alena Zuikova stressed.

“Another characteristic feature of this study is that previously we could only wonder what the contribution and the influence of Poland in the allocating donor assistance is. Poland supports scholarship programs and civil society. Supporting civil society is mainly done through financing the TV channel Belsat as well as the radio stations Radio Racyja and Euroradio, which broadcast in Belarus (8 million dollars annually overall),” noted Alena Zuikova.

“More than 50% of aid from Sweden, Poland and the United States go to civil society.”

“I must stress that we analyze the strategy of each donor in our study. And we can safely say that each of them has its own “specialization”. EU institutions support human rights field, Germany — democratic participation of civil society, Poland — media, Sweden — democratic participation and human rights,” said Alain Zuikova.

The full text of the study can be found here (in Russian).

The authors of the study:

Alena Zuikova is an analyst of the Centre for European Transformation, Master of Political Science. MA in Political Science (European Affairs) at Institute of Political Studies of Lille, France (Sciences Po — Institut d'Études Politiques de Lille). The focus of research interests: European Neighbourhood Policy, Eastern Partnership, EU policies towards Belarus, EU development policy, civil society, CSOs' role in democratisation processes in Belarus.

Andrei Yahorau is the director of the Centre for European transformation (CET), Master of Political Science. He graduated from Belarusan State University, department of political science, and holds a master’s degree in political science. He has been working in the political research area since 2001. The focus of research interests: transformation of the former Soviet Union space, civil society, political transformations in Belarus and the Eastern Partnership region, European studies.