The idea that Belarusians are hostile and distrustful towards the West has been spread by some media. To defend this argument, some refer to the East-Slavic mentality influenced by the 70 years of Communist rule while other appeal to the political experience of the recent years. Still, does the slogan “Belarus – in Europe” inspire only a handful of extremists? How many Belarusian citizens actually want Belarus’ joining the European Union? This was the question of a nation-wide poll conducted by the IISEPS in December 1997 and January 1998. The survey was organized within the framework of the project “The development of informational infrastructure of market economy in Belarus” conducted with the support from the Center for International Private Enterprise.

As the results of the poll show, 48.8% of the respondents believe that Belarus should become a member of the EU and have a customs and currency union with Western countries. What is the correlation between the answers and social-demographic characteristics of respondents? The answer can be inferred from Table 1.

Opinions of people from different regions of Belarus also diverge significantly. Western regions and Minsk are more pro-EU than regions situated in the eastern part of Belarus. We should pay attention to some peculiarities represented in Table 2. Although the differences do not exceed the statistical probability of an error, it’s Brest region whose population is most interested in joining the EU. This region has had deep business contacts with the West. At the same time, the population of Grodno region which is also situated close to the border, is less interested in Belarus’ integration in Europe than the average population. The opinion of people from Gomel region may be explained by the Chernobyl catastrophe: they hope that their problems will not be forgotten in the united Europe.

During the opinion poll the question was asked: “Who is the ideal of a politician, in your opinion?”. It is interesting to see the correlation between people’s ideal in politics and their attitude to joining the EU.

Table 3 shows that ideals of the pollsters are closely and logically connected with their understanding of Belarus’ future. At the same time, the slogan “Belarus – in Europe” is not alien to many supporters of President Lukashenko. Of course, they might believe that it is possible to dictate their own rules in Europe, but they are not totally anti-European.

Of course, Belarus’ joining the EU cannot happen in the nearest future. What’s the correlation between the respondents’ attitude towards joining Europe and their opinion about the Union of Belarus and Russia which already exists?

As it seems natural, nostalgia for Soviet times is not compatible with the desire to become part of united Europe (Table 4).

Table 4. Supporters of Belarus’ joining the EU among groups different in their attitude to Belarus’ sovereignty, %


Supporters of Belarus’ joining the EU

Do you want the restoration of the USSR?




What is the most appropriate type of relations between Russia and Belarus?
Friendly relations between two sovereign states


Unification in one state


A union of two states


So, the results of the opinion poll show that the Belarusian population is not as anti-West as some want to depict it. Many want the European Union to stretch from Gibraltar to Orsha and some even want it to stretch up to Vladivostok.

G. Drakokhrust, Ph. D.