14 September

Mikhail Marinich: March of hope


14 October the European March is to be held on the initiative of the democratic public of Belarus, the march of solidarity with the European way of life, European values, Europe itself. I consider participation of the democratic forces in the March as important as participation of representatives of the state authorities.

That is not a referendum

European March is not a referendum where you are to choose between the alternatives: either European Union or Russia .Though today, I am sure many people are ready to make their choice. The majority wishes to live the life of the EU people .The Belarusian image of good life in many aspects coincides with the European standards .From cooperation with the European Union Belarusians expect living standard rising , simplification of the international traveling procedures, trade relationship development.

The march is the possibility of joining those who are eager to live decent life. Decent life is not the life shown at the billboards by the second-hand propaganda. Moreover, the present economic situation is going to make the majority of population to tighten their belts. Participating in the March we shall show what it means to live decent life: it means to live free life, respecting the human rights, having the right to chose, getting good wages for your work. It means to live in compliance with the European standards guided by the common democratic values.

but choice of values

For us Belarusians who were borne in the soviet times and continue living in the authoritarian system, the European means first and foremost the citizen living under conditions of democracy, respect of human rights and liberties

The Europeans have a long and sophisticated history .Different events happened in their history. In XX century itself there were two world wars, totalitarian regimes appeared, particularly in Germany. Passing through the milestones of their history the Europeans presented themselves and the rest of the world with procedures of the power sharing which allowed to establish capable democratic institutions and, consequently, to impose public control over elected and appointed officials at different levels. The other achievement of the kind, to my mind, is the social state structure allowing relaxing social tension created by the market relationship thus establishing the initial conditions of the civilized life for the society. Today we see Europe that is able to set up procedures of cooperation and relationship of different nationalities, economic systems, Europe that has gained the new type of relationship in the form of the European Union.

As far as I am concerned, participation in the March means acknowledgement of the major achievement of the long history of Europe - European values which may be differently named as common democratic values.

That is not an antithesis

It is senseless for Belarus being in the center of Europe to shield from it and as ostrich not to notice the initiatives either of Europe or of the European-minded part of the population of Belarus. Unfortunately the Belarusian authorities still perceive the European Union not as a partner but as a rival and artificially isolating the country from the outer world.

It is senseless and hopeless to confront the country to major geopolitical centers of the region, i.e. Russia and European Union. The intrigues with Russia have finished with we know what. Now we are eliminating the consequences after finding ourselves at the brink of the economic precipice. The intrigues with Europe wont go. That means nothing else but self-isolation. If it is difficult to start negotiations lets start with the European March, the March of hope.

but acknowledgement of Belarus as European country

Authoritarian governance along with the underdeveloped political structures became the main drag in the civil society development in Belarus. The March is the only chance of the power to declare its second to the civil society not by words but by deeds. It is the chance for the people to come out together without any repressions and truncheons. It is the chance to express your viewpoint openly and straightforwardly without disgracing the people, without resorting to violence. For the most fearful officials it is the chance to join the action participants and to get charged with the spirit of freedom at least for the March time. The similar emotional spirit was in the society after 2006 election. It could not be curbed even by the walls of prison where I was at that moment.

Unfortunately European origin of Belarus can be proved only by its geographical position. All the rest: democracy, human rights, civilization are only the subjects for confrontation. Lets listen attentively to the Belarusian people and arrange the priorities. And we, the people, who respect and acknowledge the democratic values must make the first step forward for Belarus to come to Europe tomorrow , for it to become European not only geographically.

It is not confrontation

From the moral and psychological viewpoint it is very hard for me to speak of the possible dialogue with those who made me spend years in prison .With those who continue the repressions against the political opponents.

Today people of opposite viewpoints are presented as enemies to the people by the power .It are due to the authoritys unacceptability of dissidents, of alternative conceptions of development. Due to the total control imposed in the country over the information media, the opposition cant propagate its view among the population.

Nevertheless the dialogue between the opposition and the power is possible because there is the subject for discussion the economy. Today we speak different languages; the authorities prefer the language of force, the opposition the language of compromise for the sake of future. In such situation the translator is invited. I think that Europe can become that translator and the March a test of ability to talk. The authorities and the opposition have the common viewpoint that Belarus is a European country, at least.

But a step forward to the society


As a policymaker I have to appeal for a compromise .Not as far as the political prisoners, election system and freedom of speech are concerned .But it may found in the common viewpoints, the desire to hear the civil society and let people live their own life. As Europeans. There is no other way; it is the matter of time. We are demanded to take responsibility for the future of Belarus. And help the society to deal with their attitudes accumulated under the totalitarian regime, in the historically short period- in, say, 5-1- years- to reconstruct themselves, first of all morally and psychologically.

The democratic forces manifest their readiness to compromise, dialogue with the authorities. Despite of senseless repressions the opposition offers the authorities to come out together to the European March. It may be the first step forward towards realizing the responsibility for the countries future, for the European choice of Belarus. The European March offers the authorities to make a step forward to the Belarusian society.

Mikhail Marinich