Paul McCarthy from Cork: Helps Bring Aid to Belarus

Although almost all of Europe has changed after the end of the Cold War, Belarus was not one of them. The leadership of this landlocked country with a population of more or less ten million people has held onto its USSR-style economy. So much that the country is usually described as Europe’s last place with dictatorship still intact, despite this fact, foreign aids from every organization known to man – whether it is a government-run or a non-governmental organization – can help Belarus foster a new partnership and new economy.

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Holding a Russian Standard

Belarus is a new country which gains its independence from Russia (formerly known as the Soviet Union) in 1991. In 1994, Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ first president, was elected. He was Belarus’ only president until now. Lukashenko’s reign has been a steady consolidation of weakening if the democratic institution and power.

Because of this situation, the West is experiencing a tense relation when it comes to working with the Belarusian government. Not only that, the country’s economy can be compared to a Soviet model of centralizing economy. Around 50% of the country’s workforce is employed by government-owned companies or entities, which make up at least 75% of the country’s gross domestic products.

It has produced a rigid economic structure that is not logical in the West or in highly globalized countries. While poverty had dramatically fallen from 60% in 2001 to more or less 2% in 2013, the state was still a little bit unstable. It was able to minimize poverty because of its favorable energy productivity growth and pricing with its biggest trading partner, Russia.

The country in crisis

But the factors mentioned are no longer in play for the country’s benefit. Russia’s productivity has dramatically dropped while energy prices have started to increase together with the accumulation of Russia’s debts. Because of the 2014 – 2016 recession, the country’s fragile structured economy was exposed when poverty started to plummet to 3% all over the country, with 6% in the rural areas.

Not only that, the country has been unable to adapt to transnational and national safety and health issues. First, the country is currently experiencing an epidemic of NCDs or noncommunicable diseases. The United Nation Development Program reported that more or less 89% of all fatalities in Belarus are because of noncommunicable diseases.

Second, human trafficking has become a big problem the United States Department of State labeled the country as a tier-three country when it comes to human trafficking (the worst possible tier to attain). Belarus serves as the main ‘gatekeeper’ that buffers the European Union from exposure or spreading of drug and human trafficking. What can be done when it comes to these types of situation? United Nations, European Union, the United States or philanthropic individuals like Paul McCarthy in Cork can answer these questions.

The focus the organizations mentioned above is to strengthen the country’s private sectors. It has implemented a lot of projects over the years that help build a stronger economy for Belarus. A project called TechMinsk is a business and technical boot camp for startup businesses and business owners.

As of 2017, more or less $8 million has been invested in at least 200 companies and 90 startups that were newly introduced to the country’s economy. Through training and international programs, more or less 6,000 businesses have been created or strengthened.

Both government and non-government organizations have continued their trade relations with Belarus, but these relations have been strained over the years. After years of tense sanctions and relations, the country saw a renewed interest in both sides fir relevant talks when it comes to visa liberalization.

Belarus is working towards a better future

While the country has not let go of its tightly secured and controlled economy and government, foreign aids are changing the whole narrative. These international organizations have taken drastic measures to open Belarus to the entire world and expose the people’s idea of free economy and different societies.

How foreign aid works? Click here to find out more.

Here, the interests are overlapping on both sides. On the side of the “West,” it has vested interests in stopping human trafficking all over the world. In comparison, Belarus needs to do something to counterbalance its dependency on the Russian economy and government. Foreign aid from other government or non-government organizations is starting to open up and help Belarus build a freer and sturdier nation.

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