(Translated from Belarusian by Engländer)
Reform of the National Security Sector
The situation both inside the country and around it is developing in an unfavourable way for the national interests of Belarus. The main threats to national security are caused by the growth of the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy, Belarus’ participation in post-Soviet integrationist projects under the auspices of Russia, the domination of Russian media in the information space, and a low level of national consciousness among Belarusians.
The fundamental vectors of reform of the existing state policy are the following: exit from integrationist unions that have Russia as a member; preservation and development of national cultural heritage and the Belarusian language; stable economic growth; a high level and quality of life for citizens; democratic system of leadership.
As a result of this reform the dangers of outside interference and of a destabilisation of the situation in the country will decrease, as will attempts to split apart the society and the territorial integrity of Belarus.
Problems against which the reform is directed
1. The Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy
In order to realise its revanchist imperial plans the Kremlin is actively making use of:
- economic and energy blackmail
- media pressure
- spreading fake news and disinformation
- having a toxic effect on the elite and the citizenry
- falsification of history with the goal of manipulating public consciousness
- artificially provoking and inflaming internal conflicts
The Russian leadership is using the concept of the “Russian world” in order to strengthen Moscow’s control over Belarus. The basis for this is often the Russian language and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Kremlin often applies methods of “soft power”: NDA’s, opinion factories, mass media, bloggers, social networks, and [student] exchanges and work-experience placements in Russia.
2. Absence of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of association and other basic freedoms
Independent media is under strong pressure. Civil society and the political opposition are confronted with harsh restrictions on their actions and persecution. There haven’t been free and honest elections in the country for more than two decades.
3. Low level of national consciousness and the domination of the Russian language
A complete inability of the state ideology and state media to compete with the propaganda of Russian media: Russian television and radio is de facto dominant in Belarus’ information space.
4. The problematic state of the Belarusian economy
The Belarusian economy is faced with a significant depletion of basic funds and technologically it lags behind not only world leaders, but also its neighbours – the EU countries.
5. Belarus’ membership in integrationist supranational structures where Russia dominates –, the Union State, the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), Eurasian Economic Union, CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)
As part of the CSTO Belarusians are threatened with being dragged into armed conflicts in Central Asia, and also across the whole world. Because of our participation in the CSTO there exists the threat of Asian or Russian troops being used on our territory. Belonging to the CSTO also impedes the modernisation of our army.
6. The change of priorities and focal points in the foreign policy of the European Union
The EU is grappling with unprecedented migratory challenges and the consequences of Brexit. Many EU countries are seeking compromises with the Kremlin. The US isn’t a real guarantor of Belarus’ independence, despite progress in bilateral relations and a firm commitment on the part of Washington to the independence and sovereignty of Belarus.
BASIC GOALS / THE REFORM’S OBJECTIVES
The fundamental goal of national security sector reform is the immediate mobilisation and consolidation of the citizenry with the aim of defending independence and sovereignty.
- to strengthen national identity, increase patriotism and national dignity;
- to unite the citizenry on the basis of democratic values and the idea of building an independent Belarus;
- to reduce the influence of the Kremlin on Belarus through informational, economic, integrationist and humanitarian factors;
- exit from post-Soviet integrationist unions with Russian domination;
- integration into Western political, economic, and military structures (the EU, NATO)
BASIC STEPS TOWARDS THE CONCEPT’S REALISATION
Immediate measures (before 2021):
1. In the political sphere:
- exit from the “Union State”, the Eurasian Union, the Customs Union, and other integrationist formations where Russia dominates;
- banning of pro-Russian organisations whose activities go against our national interests, and also of Russian funds and the organisations which finance such structures;
- the introduction of criminal liability for public statements which call into question the existence of a separate Belarusian nation and/or its historical right to its own state. The introduction of criminal liability for public insults of the Belarusian language;
- monitoring by civil society powers of the activities of pro-Kremlin initiatives in Belarus;
- the implementation of border and customs controls at the borders with Russia;
- a ban on selling Belarusian infrastructure objects to Russian companies
3. In the information sphere:
- freeing independent media from pressure and control from the state, ensuring media freedom and freedom of speech in Belarus;
- banning the broadcast in Belarus of journalistic, socio-political, and news programs which are made by Russian TV channels;
- inclusion into the standard televisual package of the mandatory publicly available TV channels of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine;
- restoring the continuous activities of the Public Coordination Council in the mass-media sphere
4. In the military sphere:
- exit from the CSTO, the returning to Belarus of full control over its own anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems;
- expulsion of Russian military objects from Belarusian territory – i.e. the communications centre in Vileyka and the radar-station near Baranavichy;
- expansion of patriotic training in the Belarusian army;
- switching of educational work in the army over to the Belarusian language;
- development of border infrastructure on the borders with EU countries, increasing the access capacity of border-crossings.
5. In the environmental sphere:
- banning the commissioning of, and closing new harmful factories in Brest, Mogilev and Svetlogorsk;
- publication of exhaustive and truthful information regarding the construction, safety and use of the Astravets nuclear power plant;
- conducting a wide-ranging public discussion regarding the fate of the Astravets nuclear power plant.
6. In the social sphere:
- raising wages and improving working conditions for workers in healthcare and education
7. In the cultural sphere:
- popularisation of national heroes, with a preference for those from the 19th and 20th centuries
- popularisation of the personage of Kastuś Kalinoŭski as the political founder of the modern Belarusian nation, as a symbol of the Belarusians’ struggle for freedom and independence, and as a figure who had to consolidate around him all those who were devoted to the values of national renaissance and the country’s independence.
Medium-term objectives (before 2025)
1. In the political sphere:
- reform of electoral legislation, the conducting of free, honest, and fair elections to the country’s parliament;
- the formation of a National Guard in order to safeguard parliament and protect the constitutional order in the country;
- the formation of a National Security Service accountable to parliament;
- restoration of the independence of the courts from the executive branch;
- the implementation of public control, in the first instance by parliament, over the Armed Forces;
2. In the economic sphere:
- diversification of energy supplies, lowering Russia’s share as a supplier of energy to Belarus to 50% of the total volume of energy imports;
- expansion of the use of alternative energy sources;
- implementation of the state Program on energy saving, the lowering of energy consumption and a transition to local forms of fuel;
- construction of a new oil refinery in Novopolotsk, focused on light crude oil;
- inclusion of Belarus in cooperation programs within the framework of the “Three Seas” Initiative, with the aim of preparing the necessary documents, programs and infrastructure for Belarus’ joining the future system of liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries from the US to Eastern Europe;
- privatisation of state enterprises with a ban on purchase by companies with more than 20% share of Russian capital, the creation of conditions for the attraction of direct foreign investment;
- building modern railways and arterial highways [for the routes] Kiev-Minsk-Vilnius, Lviv-Brest-Grodno-Vilnius, Vitebsk-Polotsk-Daugavpils-Riga.
4. In the information sphere:
- making it so that the maximum number of accessible cable TV channels which have a foreign country involved in their production is set at 50% of the total TV channels offered in the package
- raising the quality level of Belarusian national TV channels, creating special socio-political and historical programmes;
- re-broadcasting by national TV channels of popular-scientific, entertainment, and news programmes from EU countries, the UK, Canada, the US, and Australia.
5. In the military sphere:
- transition to NATO standards;
- training of military personnel, with Belarusian soldiers being sent to corresponding educational establishments and centres of NATO countries.
- transition of all activities of the Belarusian army to the Belarusian language;
- giving Belarusian military units and educational establishments the names of Belarusian national heroes;
- the formation of the Belarusian armed forces from four integral parts: 1. A nucleus of professional soldiers who serve on a contractual basis; 2. Citizens who carry out a fixed period of military service; 3. Volunteer territorial units formed from citizens who maintain their civilian occupations, but undergo periodic training and can be quickly mobilised; 4. Reserves – all male citizens who are fit for service, and who have gone through military training during their fixed-term service.
- Changing the system for training soldiers during their fixed-term service, and for reservists. A focus on patriotic education and the acquiring of necessary skills.
- Changing the length of mandatory service to six months;
- The size of the Armed Forces, without counting reservists, should be between 75 and 80 thousand men;
- Setting up of the necessary infrastructure on the Belarusian-Russian border.
6. In the environmental sphere:
- The creation of favourable economic conditions for investments in projects to obtain energy from renewable sources and in the processing and re-using of waste products (garbage etc.);
- Rehabilitation of territories polluted by radiation
7. In the social sphere:
- Creation of the conditions for the return of Belarusians working abroad, in particular doctors, medical workers, and highly qualified specialists of other professions;
- Promoting the return of the descendants of our compatriots who left Belarus before the restoration of its independence as a state, through passing a law for a Compatriot’s Card – Belarusian Abroad (translator’s note: this would be a card for people of Belarusian ethnicity living abroad to prove their membership of the Belarusian nation, modelled presumably on the Polish Karta Polaka).
8. In the cultural sphere:
- Returning to the Belarusian language the status of single state language, while guaranteeing the right of national minorities to education and the holding of cultural events in their native language[s] ;
- Development and implementation of administrative and financial measures to stimulate Belarusian-language media, book-publishing, and cultural life. Return of state subsidies for teaching and education in Belarusian at pre-school, middle, and higher educational establishments.
- The carrying out of comprehensive de-communisation and de-sovietisation of Belarus;
- Belarusianisation of religious life for all Christian faiths and for other religions;
- Belarusianisation of the education system at all levels and of all types;
- Restoration of the registration, status, and state financing of the Yakub Kolas National State Humanities Lyceum, with academic freedom safeguarded for teachers, pupils, and parents; the opening of branches of the National State Humanities Lyceum in every regional capital.
Long-term goals (before 2030):
- Creation of an end-to-end system of Belarusian-language education from kindergartens through to universities;
- Restoration of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church as a national alternative to the Belarusian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate;
- Fulfilment by Belarus of all membership criteria for the EU and NATO; the completion of the corresponding applications for membership in these structures;
- Ensuring of long-term food security through diversification of the supply of foodstuffs into the country, the creation of food reserves, the modernisation of agricultural production, and the development of farms.
- Strengthening of cooperation and formation of a strategic partnership in the framework of the Baltic-Black Sea community; the formation and organisation of a corresponding regional inter-state block;
- The realisation of a program of diversifications in energy supply, with a limit on the share of suppliers from any one country set at 30% of the total volume of energy imports.