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In an effort to maintain these good relations, and to improve the political climate, the authorities deescalated the situation in June, minimizing repressive measures and maintaining cooperation with NGOs and civic initiatives.As a result, the repressive developments during the spring had virtually no impact on relations between Belarus and the West. The aggravated relations between the two countries of late 2016 and early 2017 eased, but despite efforts to diversify its foreign policy and economy, during the year Belarus remained heavily dependent on Russia, which makes up more than 50 percent of Belarus’s trade turnover.Local authorities sought to improve cooperation with CSOs, following the recent trend of local grassroots initiatives becoming more visible and numerous.At the local level, authorities gained more independence from the state authorities in spending the financial resources that they obtained.In recent years, the authorities, while decreasing state funding, have exposed GONGOs to international funding by supporting and lobbing at international level.International donors have also become more open to cooperation with GONGOs.Changes in 2018: Although the general political climate in Belarus improved somewhat in 20, the year 2017 brought new challenges for Belarusian society.
The changes conformed with the reform implemented through the ordinances of the president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, in 2013-14.
The curbing of the social protests and the weakness of the political opposition means that Lukashenka’s rule does not face any substantial political threats.
In such circumstances, the policy of “mild liberalization” and an improved political climate can continue.
At the same time, however, the Belarusian authorities failed to comply with recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and did not allow the publication of the report submitted to the organisation.
Outlook for 2018: The Belarusian authorities will seek to maintain political stability.