Belarus - on the road to nationhood or back to a merger with Russia?
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This thesis, a single case study, focuses on the manner in which Belarus handles the sovereignty that it acquired during the implosion of the Soviet Union. Various Belarusian factors likely to generate or to foster national identity and state independence are examined. None of them (ethno- cultural patterns, institutions and politics, attitudes of the Belarusian people) gives reason for optimism. Belarusian national identity is poorly developed and unable to serve as a formative factor in nation-building. In addition, Belarus shows a high economic dependence on Russia. Thus, the country pursues a course of close alignment with its former overseer. Belarus and Russia have initiated an integration process, the real aims of which are unclear. Bilateral treaties remain largely unimplemented, while the countries' leaders make contradictory statements about the possibility of a Belarusian-Russian unification. For Russia, this inconsistency reflects a lack of consensus on the issue within the government and among the various political factions. In the absence of an agreed-upon foreign policy in the 'near abroad', Russian nostalgia for Slavic unity and the loss of the Empire further complicates the debate. Hence, the future of a sovereign Belarus or the form of a Belarusian-Russian political alignment is still to be decided
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