According to Belarusian political scientists, in regards to the victory of Donald Trump in the recent US presidential election, no serious changes are foreseen in American-Belarusian relations in the near future.
The 58th presidential election in the USA was held on November 8th. Although the official results have yet to be announced, the American media has reported the triumph of the Republican candidate, millionaire Donald Trump.
More specifically, according to CNN he received 48% of the votes of the American population and 288 votes from the electoral college (in order to win a candidate must receive 270 votes from the electoral college). The most recent results show that the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, received 47.2% of votes (215 votes from the electoral college). It has also been reported that Clinton conceded and congratulated her opponent by phone.
“Predicting the policies of the Trump Administration is not an easy feat,” remarked Valery Karabalevich, an expert from the Strategy Analytical Center. “If Clinton had won, it would be safe to assume that the relations with Belarus would have continued along the same path as they had under Obama. No one knows what’s to come. Because to this day a clear idea of the Trump’s future foreign policies have not been formulated. Everything depends on how he will move from the pre-election rhetoric into real politics.”
At the same time, political scientists are certain that for the time being there will not be any changes in the political relations between the USA and Belarus.
“Trump simply won’t have time for Belarus; it isn’t on the radar as a priority considering there are much larger problems. Therefore only in time some kind of plan regarding the relationship between our countries will appear,” Karabalevich commented.
He noted that the relationship between Belarus and the USA has an existing legislative framework: the Act on Democracy in Belarus.
“There are also suspended sanctions against nine companies. For the time being the relations will carry on within this framework,” the analyst projects.
Commenting on Trump’s reiterations on the need to “reconcile with Russia,” Karabalevich asserted that Barack Obama also won the election with the promise to limit the US’s intervention in the matters of other states, and in 2009 Hillary Clinton came to Moscow as Secretary of State to announce the reset with Russia.
“This is what is called the policy of isolationism. Russia was told by the post-Soviet space, “this is your story, we won’t interfere.” What has happened in the aftermath can be seen in the example of the Ukrainian crisis. There is the political declaration, but there is also logic, which draws the US into various processes and requires intervention. Therefore I would cautiously consider Trump’s announcement to improve relations with Russia and wait to see how the events will develop in reality,” Karabalevich stated.
International expert Andrei Fedorov is also not anticipating any serious changes in the near future on either side of the relationship with respect to the Republican’s win.
“Trump is not yet an experienced politician compared to the other presidents of the US who preceded him. I’m not sure that he knows for certain where Belarus is located or what the current relations are with the US. It is likely that he will have a multitude of other issues,” Fedorov noted.
In his view, the trajectory of US-Belarusian relations will not change, “as long as nothing out of the ordinary occurs.”
“US-Belarusian relations will not undergo major changes provided that there are no unexpected changes in the relationship between Russia, especially if things turn sour,” he added.
Yet Federov is not inclined to exaggerate the impact of a possibility of the return of a US ambassador in Minsk. “From 2006—2008 there was an ambassador and the relations were quite bad. Now there is no ambassador and relations are quite good,” he commented.
In the expert’s view, one should not expect political pressure from Washington to carry out any democratic transformation in Belarus in the immediate future, nor should one anticipate serious economic support for Minsk officially. “Belarus is far from the US foreign policy,” Fedorov concluded.
At the same time, Charge d’affairs of the United States of America in Belarus, Robert Riley, announced on the evening of November the 8th at the reception at the US Embassy in Minsk that improvements in the Belarusian-American relations will depend not on the politics of the election victory, but rather on joint efforts by both parties.
“Of course I cannot predict the outcome of the election because it is too early. I can say that we would like to see improvements in collaboration. The relationship between the US and Belarus is not dependent on a certain individual or candidate but rather on the joint work that we can gradually implement within the framework of improved relations,” the diplomat emphasized.
He pointed out that this election differed from prior election campaigns in the US due to the polarized platforms of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on several important issues. The election, according to Riley, is important to Americans because of the new ideas and viewpoints brought forth during the campaign.
“Using this crucial market of ideas which can only function in the presence of free speech, we know a great deal about how to continue to build our country. Most importantly, Americans know that our democracy is not just one solitary day in November every four years, even if that is election day. Work to strengthen democracy continues every day,” the Charge d’affairs stated.