The statements of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during his recent seven-hour press conference drew attention to the Belarusian-Russian relations and development of cooperation of Minsk with the European Union. Belarusian political analyst Denis Melancholy we talked even before the sensational speech of Alexander Lukashenko.
— Foreign policy of the European Union is not United. In the Ukrainian case we see a large range of opinions. We all know that, for example, the Netherlands is extremely reserved stance on the issue of closer cooperation with Kiev. In the Belarusian case, it is also possible to speak about different approaches from different countries of the European Union?
— This distinction exists in relation to Belarus, and it is clearly visible. On the one hand are countries for which important economic relations with Belarus. Such States include, for example, Latvia. Such countries rarely raise the issue of human rights, democratisation and other values, and if already talking about it, it is very soft. They focused on economic interests and pragmatic purposes. For the same Latvia Belarus is an important trading partner. Belarusian goods are exported through Latvian ports, means for Latvia Belarus is an important country from an economic point of view.
They are followed by such countries as Hungary, Slovakia and Italy, they have always preferred the pragmatic approach and avoided sensitive topics, which the Belarusian representatives could react negatively. On the “other side” are countries such as Sweden, and, until recently, Poland. On the contrary, they emphasise the human rights issues, democratization and liberalization. Poland changed its approach with the advent of the new government. After the introduction of anti-sanctions Poland realized that it is cheaper to engage in economic cooperation rather than values. This has led to the convergence of Poland and Belarus. Western European countries such as France, the UK and the Netherlands, have shown little interest in Belarus. France propels the Union of the Mediterranean neighborhood policy, which is actually a competitor for the Eastern partnership program. That is, it is easy to divide countries on the basis of how much they are interested in Belarus. This affects their behavior during voting about the resolutions of the EU Council. And this is changing under the influence of the situation in Ukraine and policy of Belarus towards the EU.
In this scale — from economic pragmatism to the idealistic protection of human rights — in relation to Belarus is Czech Republic?
— I believe that the Czech Republic belongs more to the idealists who are trying to promote human rights, democracy and the like. The Czech Republic is perceived as a country that considers these issues important. Such policies shall, for example, Sweden. Perhaps this is due to the Czech Republic to Belarus small economic interests.
— Recently many people in Europe surprised the message that in Belarus, was arrested three people who were published in the Russian media of the anti-article. For you it was also a surprise? In Belarus, it was expected that something like this could happen?
— This is a difficult question, and it is necessary to look in a broader context. Between Belarus and Russia has already long ongoing gas and oil war. It’s been more than a year after the two countries were unable to agree on the price of oil and gas. This conflict is a long — term, and the relations of Russia and Belarus is not very good. Belarus did not support Russia in a dispute with Ukraine and welcomes the idea of opening a Russian airbase on its territory. Russia is unhappy and even started an information attack with the purpose to exert pressure on the Belarusian leadership. The “REGNUM” Agency, namely for his writing referred to the bloggers, is one of the instruments that Russia uses. Attack on Belarus has not yet penetrated into the main Russian media. However, the Agency “REGNUM” in the past published a number of anti-Belarusian materials. Belarusian authorities have detained three people, so in Moscow sent a clear signal that public insults which they perceived in Belarus these publications is inappropriate and should not be repeated.
— There is some crisis in relations between Belarus and Russia. Can eventually to reach and even escalation of the conflict, like the Russian-Ukrainian?
— These situations are in any case can not be compared, and do not expect anything like this. Relations between Ukraine and Russia has always been more or less strained. Always had some controversy. It’s called conflict diplomacy. Although Belarus and Russia are close allies and are members of the joint alliances and associations such as the CIS or the Eurasian economic Union, will never be complete enterprises of the two countries. Even when there was a Customs Union, Russia has always come up with barriers to access of Belarusian goods to the Russian market. All the time, there were attacks against Belarusian products. The same situation is with oil and gas. Prices for Belarus was changed several times. The state in which we are in now, is not new, every few years all over again. Unfortunately, the voltage in Belarus for several ratcheting up the escalation that occurred in the Ukraine, but, nevertheless, you can be sure that Russia has no plans to enter Belarus as well as Ukraine. Belarus is not interested in joining NATO and the EU. This was stated by the Ukraine, and Russia didn’t like it. All the agreements between Belarus and Russia operate. Belarus does not expel from its territory the Russian military facilities. For Russia it would be pointless to repeat the “Ukrainian scenario”.