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Eduard Severin: «All-Belarusian Peopleʹs Assembly to enhance and reinforce Belarusʹ statehood»

Eduard Severin, head of the Brest Branch of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research, Candidate of Political Sciences, told Zarya.by about the prerequisites for changing the status of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly, the legal powers it received and the new significance in the life of the country.

Эдуард Северин

– Can we say that the modernization of the political system of the Belarusian state, among other things, is becoming a consequence of the changes being the case in society?

– We must admit that we are living in a period of transformation not only of the political system, but also of relations in the social sphere, economic relations, and the value system that existed traditionally. Being a reflection of the socio-political structure and mentality of citizens, along with the development of society, the Basic Law itself is constantly improving and undergoing constitutional reforms.

In fact, amendments and additions to the Constitution launched the process of creating a unique and more effective model of the political system. Accordingly, the changes also affected the All-Belarusian People's Assembly, the highest representative body, whose purpose is to stabilize and strengthen the Belarusian statehood, determine the directions of development, and ensure the inviolability of the constitutional order.

All this, in general, will facilitate in resolving a number of issues accumulated in society, ranging from politics to the social sphere. It must be understood at the same time that constitutional reform is not a one-time action. Nevertheless, some specific principles of reform should be outlined within the framework of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly.

– What motivated the change in the status of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly at the current stage?

– The Assembly is a collective body that decides which way the country should go. During the years of independence of the Republic of Belarus, the Institute of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly has established itself as an important organ of democracy, which, not being a classical state body, enshrines the state course of development. The earlier-presented draft Law of the Republic of Belarus on the All-Belarusian People's Assembly was a logical development of the topic of bringing the legal norms in compliance with the updated Constitution. A fundamentally new point in this regard was the inclusion of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly in the established system of public administration.

Traditions of popular sovereignty have long existed in the Belarusian lands. The process of formation and development of the Belarusian statehood in different historical and political periods was characterized by the emergence of new representative bodies corresponding to the spirit of the times and socio-political demands. The granting of constitutional status to the All-Belarusian People's Assembly was a natural result of developing the Belarusian political system at the stage of sovereignty and independence.

Why was it important to consolidate the All-Belarusian People's Assembly status in the Basic Law of the country? Our statehood was formed after going through a long and difficult historical path. This has significantly influenced the specifics of state-building and the functioning of the political system. It is traditional for the Belarusian people to be involved in solving strategically important tasks aimed at preserving and strengthening their own statehood. It is the regular holding of Republican national forums that guarantees the stability of the chosen political path.

The consolidated format for considering the key tasks and directions of the state's development has been reasonably entrenched in sovereign history: since 1996, six All-Belarusian People's Assemblies have been held in the republic. In fact, they can be considered a prologue to the current constitutional reform. It is quite logical that the All-Belarusian People's Assembly needed to consolidate its legal status.

The envisaged changes are aimed at developing the political system of the Republic of Belarus, expanding the participation of citizens and public institutions in decision-making processes that are significant for the country. Therefore, the All-Belarusian People's Assembly becomes a key tool for solving the tasks of developing the country, strengthening the unity of the people and ensuring dialogue between the government and society.

– Why is it important to involve citizens in the process of developing regulatory legal acts, which was observed in the concrete example of the same draft Law on the All-Belarusian People's Assembly?

– The right to participate in solving public affairs is officially enshrined in our country. The direct participation of citizens in managing the affairs of society and the state is ensured through the discussion of draft laws and other regulatory legal acts.

We are entering a new stage in the development of Belarusian society and the state. Mechanisms must be embedded at the level of the legal dimension that will counteract emerging threats both inside and outside the country. Participation in the development of laws makes every citizen involved in the formation of the right space. In this case, it is very important to listen to initiatives and wishes from the field.

From October 24 to November 2, 2022, a public discussion was held in the republic, including on the website of the Legal Forum of Belarus, of the draft Law "On the All-Belarusian People's Assembly". In the said period, 456 proposals and responses from citizens were received. It is noteworthy that the absolute majority of the proposals on the draft law on the All-Belarusian People's Assembly were constructive in nature.

The public discussion of draft laws on changing the Electoral Code of Belarus and on the All-Belarusian People's Assembly was characterized by increased activity in all corners of the country. Brest region was no exception in this regard. The draft Law "On the All-Belarusian People's Assembly", in particular, was discussed at dialogue platforms in Bereza at a meeting of the veteran organization's assets, at meetings with the labor collective of the Zhabinka Feed Mill enterprise, students and teachers of the Brest State Technical University.

– What are the main points emphasized in the Law "On the All-Belarusian People's Assembly"?

– Now we can say that the implementation of this Law will give a new impetus to state development. The All-Belarusian People's Assembly, formed on a democratic basis, will perform stabilizing and consolidating functions in society.

Prior to signing the Law by the Head of State in February, the term of office of the People's Assembly and eligibilities of delegates were announced at the draft level. The document is focused on implementing the constitutional norms on the All-Belarusian People's Assembly, consolidating its legal status as the top representative body of the people's power, as well as determining the order of formation and activity. The delegates of the People's Assembly include the Head of State, who who has ceased to exercise his powers, representatives of the legislative, executive and judicial authorities, local Councils of Deputies, as well as civil society. The range of powers is wide, concerning decision-making on the approval of the most important documents for the country (the main directions of domestic and foreign policy, military doctrine, national security concept, socio-economic development program), on making proposals to the President on holding a republican referendum, on electing judges of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, members of the Central Executive Committee, and their dismissal from office, on the establishment of holidays, holidays and memorable dates, on the introduction of a state of emergency or martial law, on the possibility of sending military personnel outside the country to participate in activities to maintain international peace and security.

– What is the difference between All-Belarusian People's Assembly and other existing institutions of the political system of Belarus?

– First of all, the All-Belarusian People's Assembly in the full sense of the word does not belong to any of the traditional branches of government. Based on the logic of its formation and enshrined competencies, this representative body is designed to consolidate the efforts of various state bodies and the most significant constructive actors of civil society, thus combining the efforts of experts from various spheres of Belarusian society to solve specific tasks and achieve strategic goals.

The All-Belarusian People's Assembly should have sufficient powers to fulfill its fundamental function – to contribute to the preservation of peace and stability, the continuity of generations and civil harmony. Accordingly, the scope of the Assembly's powers presupposes the special nature of its decisions, which are adopted by a majority of the full membership, are binding and can cancel legal acts and other decisions of state bodies that contradict the interests of national security.

Taking into account the norms of the country's Constitution, the decisions of the National Assembly will have the highest legal force after the Basic Law and the decisions of the republican referendums. Thus, the All-Belarusian People's Assembly should be formed not instead of, but in addition to, the existing political system in Belarus, improving it, strengthening it, ensuring even greater transparency of the activities of government structures and their accountability to the people.