The presidential election strengthened Alyaksandr Lukashenka's political position, as the president extended his rule by another five years to 2011. It also reinforced the repression apparatus, consolidated the ruling group and ensured that the democrats remained marginalised.
Clear qualitative changes have taken place in relations between the European Union and its Eastern neighbours over the past year. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has been playing a significant part in the context of these changes
The European Union's new border with Eastern European countries, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, is approximately 3000 km long. It has vital meaning for the Union in terms of security as well as for social and economic reasons. Unlike the southern maritime border of the EU, the eastern land border poses a number of different challenges
The EU enlargement is scheduled to take place in 2004. After this date, it should be a priority for the EU to develop a coherent and comprehensive policy towards its nearest neighbours, i.e. countries bordering the Member States, which cannot join the EU in the nearest future due to their location or weaknesses of their political and economic systems
Of the re-integration processes currently taking place in the former Soviet Union, the formation of a Russian-Belarusian so-called 'Union State' is one of the most advanced. A customs union was formally announced between the two countries as early as 1995 and the process of constructing the Union State itself was launched in December 1999. However, both events were largely driven by the perceived need to match societal demands, without much concrete action and the Union State remained largely 'virtual'.
Belarus has not broken off its bonds with Moscow after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Throughout the whole period of the Belarussian independence we can observe the country·s strong political, economic and military dependence on Russia. This dependence allows Russia to control, and even shape, the processes that take place in Belarus in all the areas mentioned.