Some years ago Belarus signed an agreement for the so-called “small border traffic” with the neighboring countries of the EU Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The matter concerns visa-free trips to the neighboring countries of the border territories residents. The agreement with Latvia has already come into effect; with Lithuania and Poland – has not.

In May 2012 the unregistered party Belarusian Christian Democracy began collecting signatures on the Internet to the petition for realization of the appropriate agreement between Belarus and Poland. Authors of the petition are “deeply concerned about the government’s procrastination of realization of the agreement for the small border traffic with the Republic of Poland”.

It is reported that a thousand of signatures to the document has been collected for half a year. However, there are much more supporters of the “small border traffic” between Belarus and its neighbors. The IISEPS opinion poll of December 2012 proved that Belarusians are quite well-informed about the initiative (Pict. 1).

At that the level of awareness is much higher among residents of the border regions than on average in the country (Pict. 2).

* The table is read across

It happens quite seldom that the capital is not a leader as far as awareness of European initiatives is concerned. Here is the case when self comes first for the residents of Brest, Grodno and Vitebsk. Support of the initiative also proves to be rather high in these regions (Pict. 3).

* The table is read across

However, Minsk finds itself already among the leaders of a positive attitude to the initiative of the “small border traffic”; it happens to all appearances due to the fact that the question is political, and the capital is politically more inclined to liberal approaches. Also the fact that attitude to the initiative does not divide the country into the East and the West draws attention to itself – the eastern part of the Vitebsk region bordering on Latvia treats the “small border traffic” as positively, as the capital and the Brest region. On the other hand, in the Mogilev and Gomel regions that are contiguous with the countries trips to which do not require visas support of the EU initiative is appreciably lower.

However, not all respondents put their positive attitude to the “small border traffic” into readiness to achieve its realization even with the help of actions that do not require much effort (Pict. 4).

* The whole sampling data are given in parentheses

Approximately half of those who expressed approval of the EU initiative are ready to do at least something for it to become reality. On the other hand, every fifth respondent ready to sign a petition to support the undertaking equals almost one and a half million of adult Belarusians. As it has been mentioned above, the petition initiated by BCD was signed by only a thousand of people for six months.

On the one hand, it testifies to the fact that words about readiness to act do not always mean the readiness itself. On the other hand, it might testify to an insufficient political art of politicians. In particular, authors of the BCD petition expressly lay the blame for procrastination of embodying the “small border traffic” on Belarusian authorities. At the same time the population is far from such univocacy (Pict. 5).

Only about every fifth respondent expressly blames Belarusian authorities for not having opened the “small border traffic” so far. The data of Pict. 6 reveal the levels of motivation of actions in support of the initiative among the respondents who gave different answers to the question of Pict. 5.

Contrary to all expectations, those who lay blame on Belarus’ foreign partners prove to be potentially the readiest for active actions on promotion of the “small border traffic”. At that the most popular and acceptable form of such activity for them is signing a petition. Those who blame Belarusian authorities declare a greater readiness for more resolute actions.

It follows from what has just been said above that the potential of the public activity for promoting the “small border traffic” is quite high. At the same time it includes a large number of people who are not at all opposition-leaning and do not blame the authorities for the fact that the project has not been put into effect yet, as far as Poland and Lithuania are concerned.