In light of recent events in Ukraine Aliaksandr Lukashenka is losing his image of ‘Europe’s last dictator’. Thus, the West is standing a chance of improving relations with Belarus and saving the face.
Power vacuum poses a problem to Europeans
Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Alena Kupchyna is to stay in Brussels on January 29 and 30 for ‘meetings with leaders and representatives of European institutions’. ‘The sides will discuss a broad range of issues concerning cooperation between Belarus and the European Union,’ – the Foreign Ministry’s press office offers few specifics.
The current developments on Maidan may make the West treat Lukashenka better. ‘Power vacuum poses a problem to people in the West. They want gas to be delivered regularly, illegal migration and drug trafficking to be under control. Lukashenka does his best and provides border security,’ political expert Aliaksandr Klaskouski says.
The examples are around us: on January 27, 2013 at an extended session of the State Border Committee to discuss border protection he deemed it necessary to make better use of the EU’s interest in strong border with Belarus. ‘The President gave separate instructions regarding measures to strengthen the country’s weight as a guarantor of stability and security on the common border with the European Union’.
‘We need to make better use of the EU’s interest in strong border with Belarus. Therefore, I have set a task <…> to show the European Union and the entire international community that Belarus is a country that should be loved, appreciated and respected. We need to carry out a number of events. They should see that we combat illegal migration, smuggling and transportation of radioactive substances. We need to show them our importance. We have professionals, solutions and human resources. Give us money and hardware and we will work together. Appreciate us as your partners,’ news agency BelTA quotes the President as saying.
A chance to solve a Belarusian knot?
‘As long as political prisoners are behind bars in Belarus the West are not likely to bring about any significant change. Otherwise, they would lose their face. It is rumoured that political prisoners will be released before the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship starts. But the recovery of cooperation in some fields (power economy, cross-border cooperation) is clearly seen. All Belarusian offers shelved might be fulfiled: outrage over Ploshcha [crackdown on the peaceful protests] has gone, European officials have been out of conceit with sanctions policy. It’s high time one solved the Belarusian knot,’ the expert said.
Ms Kupchyna might be a constant guest at the EU’s institutions but it was her who refused to register Belsat’s correspondent office in Minsk. Then the Ministry’s official referred to our contributors’ alleged law violations. As Belsat journalists and contributors have to perform their professional duties without any accreditation they repeatedly draw fire from public officers.