Since Belarus’ independence in 1991, political relations between the European Union (EU) and Belarus have been plagued by continued neglect and noncooperation. The EU has thus far failed to make an impact on the Belarusian regime or its population.
This dissertation explores the rationale behind the EU’s failed approach to governance in the country by drawing on the EU’s external governance framework. In particular, it develops the notion of external governance by focusing on the EU’s newest initiative, namely the Eastern Partnership Program (EaP).
The approach adopted in this work differs from other studies insofar as it accounts for external factors, namely Belarus’ relations with Russia and Belarus domestic culture, as constituting formidable challenges to the EU’s governance in the country. It also differs from the typical academic discourse as it removes Belarus from the stagnant position of "Europe’s last dictatorship".
Recent developments that have occurred are taken into account, not only within the sphere of EU-Belarusian relations, but also within Russian-Belarusian relations. It argues that the EaP is a further instance of continued failure within the EU’s overall idealist external governance framework vis-à-vis Belarus. In conclusion, it emphasizes that the failure of the EU’s external governance framework cannot wholly be attributed to the EU itself. The EU’s failure is compounded by Belarus’ deeply ingrained relationship with Russia which continues to consolidate an "eastward looking" Belarus.
Alex Rubin is an MA postgraduate student of Politics, Security and Integration at University College London.