The seminar was opened by the “architect” of the Polish market reforms, Professor Leszek Balcerowicz, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle.
The seminar’s underlying goal was to debate the requirements for privatisation and consolidation of private entrepreneurship, and to outline the feasible economic reforms which the EU and international financial institutions could assist in.
The discussions were attended by international experts and a large number of representatives of Belarusian organisations, think tanks, and institutions. The Movement For Freedom (MFF) was represented at the seminar by the MFF Deputy Chairman Yuras Hubarevich and the People’s Programme expert Dasha Slabchanka.
“The EU, surely, has something to offer to Belarus in order to modernise our economy: from the experience of transformation in Poland — which Belarus could adopt with due regard to the analysis of errors made — to financial and economic assistance. There are plenty of tools for this — for example, as part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, through the cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, etc.,” said Slabchanka in her interview to Pyx.by.
The main thing that was emphasised in the speeches of high European policy makers and experts was that privatisation should be performed transparently.
“The role of the opposition and the third sector, in particular of the Movement For Freedom, is to ensure public control over the transparency of the privatisation process because we don’t need privatisation to plug holes in the budget, as is mostly the case now, but to modernise the economy. It’s also very important to inform the public about the benefits of the reforms, and about the things that the EU could give to Belarus. That is, we perform the role of conductors of the signal that is sent by the united Europe to Minsk, to Belarus. By the way, I would like to mention that the People’s Programme initiated by the MFF has certain detailed ideas of reforms in various areas, not only in economy,” says the expert.
It was stressed at the conference that the EU is, certainly, willing to cooperate with the Belarusian government in promoting the economic transformation, but only provided basic democratic standards are met.
“The democratic and market reforms are the two rails which Belarus should move on. And, if one imagines that the dialogue on modernisation is a train, the pleasing fact is that the Belarusian opposition, the civil and expert communities were invited as soon as it began to move. The government’s future participation in the dialogue is, surely, welcome, but this is only possible after political prisoners are released and rehabilitated. The priority for those who were invited, including us, is not just to be passengers, but to actively participate in determining the direction, the methods, and the rate of movement forward. It is we who should select the path and the format, with the united Europe being willing to contribute to our modernisation efforts and our movement forward. Today’s seminar is, among other things, a reminder to the Belarusian authorities of the lost opportunities as the result of suspension of dialogue with the EU,” summed up Slabchanka.