EHU faculty featured in discussions on Belarus’s political situation and relations with neighboring countries and the European Union (EU) at the Elliott School of International Affairs of George Washington University (GWU). The discussion attracted around forty members of academia and civil society, including representatives of such organizations as Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republican Institute, as well as diplomats from the US Department of State.
EHU Lecturer, Professor at the European University at St Petersburg, and Academic Director of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies Dr. Alexei Pikulik emphasized that external rents provided by Russia for political purposes reinforce the status quo in Belarus. Until this changes, democratic change is unlikely. Pikulik argued that those who favor liberal reforms need a fresh strategy towards Belarus.
EHU's newly-appointed Head of Social and Political Sciences Dr. Virginijus Valentinavicius, a former advisor to Lithuania's Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, explained that Lithuania seeks to position itself as a mediator in Belarus-EU relations. He said European governments are running out of patience with Aliaksandr Lukashenka's repressions and systematic violations of human rights and civil liberties, but both Lithuania and the EU are running out of options and, at the moment, have no coherent strategy on dealing with today’s Belarus.
The discussion was moderated by Assistant Director of the Elliott School's Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Professor Robert Orttung.
The EHU delegation also met with representatives of GWU's Law School and Georgetown University, faculty from Columbia University and the New School, and spoke to students at the New School. Possibilities for academic cooperation were also discussed.
EHU wishes to thank its many friends and supporters in the United States for their hospitality and special assistance before and during the visit, program, and meetings, particularly: Friends of EHU and its President Robert Nurick; Assistant Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies Professor Robert Orttung; Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University Professor Barak D. Hoffman; Acting Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Ambassador Michael G. Kozak; Program Manager of the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative Ashley Martin; Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute Professor Timothy M. Frye; Director of Columbia University’s Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies Alan Timberlake; Assistant Professor at the New School for Public Engagement Alexandra Wagner; Deputy Director of Strategy and Business Development at Democracy International Liza Prendergast; international political analyst Juozas A. Kazlas; Orsa Romano Foundation President Alla Romano; Professor Thomas Bird of CUNY Queen's College; and all those who kindly provided their assistance.