Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 73

As anticipated, Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka did nothing during his visit to Belgrade yesterday to encourage Yugoslavia’s accession to the Russia-Belarus Union, a development which would conflict with both his agenda and the interests of his regime (see the Monitor, April 13). Lukashenka merely accepted from Milosevic an application to himself and to Russian President Boris Yeltsin to consider the issue at the next session of the Russia-Belarus Union’s Higher Council–a body chaired by Yeltsin and Lukashenka in a rotating arrangement, with Lukashenka currently in the chair. Lukashenka emphasized that the issue will be considered by the highest bodies of the Russia-Belarus Union, as distinct from either country’s own executive and legislative bodies (Itar-Tass, April 14).

That procedure amounts to sidelining the issue, because the Higher Council and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union are mainly ceremonial bodies– talking shops with no real powers. Lukashenka and other top Belarusan officials have scrambled for decent excuses to avoid considering Yugoslavia’s request, ever since Milosevic and his parliament thrust that request into the laps of their Russian and Belarusan counterparts last week.