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Eurasian Integration of Belarus as Path-Dependence

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Abstract

There is a tendency to explain all the problems and choices made by the Republic of Belarus as a result of the policy of its leadership. This text offers a take on choices made by Belarus in favor of preserving and strengthening relations with Russia through the prism of the concept of path-dependence. Simply said, economic, social, and political circumstances determine the vector of development of the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as they frame and transform president Lukashenka's intentions. Thus, country's participation in the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union is a predictable step in a chain of interconnected choices that the Belarusian political elite have been making since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Special attention in the text is paid to what the analysis of the Belarusian case can tell about the nature and prospects of integration in the region.

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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1994 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association and at a Conference on ‘What is Institutionalism Now?’ at the University of Maryland, October 1994. We would like to acknowledge the hospitality and stimulation that W. Richard Scott, the Stanford Center for Organizations Research, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences provided while the preliminary work for this paper was being done, and we are grateful to Paul Pierson for many helpful discussions about these issues. For written comments on this earlier draft, we are grateful to Robert Bates, Paul DiMaggio, Frank Dobbin, James Ennis, Barbara Geddes, Peter Gourevitch, Ian Lustick, Cathie Jo Martin, Lisa Martin, Paul Pierson, Mark Pollack, Bo Rothstein, Kenneth Shepsle, Rogers Smith, Marc Smyrl, Barry Weingast, and Deborah Yashar.
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