Aliaksandr Lukashenka on Saturday attended the inauguration of Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine’s new president in Kyiv.
The Belarusian leader joined the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Estonia, as well as the prime minister of Canada and the vice president of the United States to watch the 48-year-old Poroshenko being sworn in as president.
The ceremony was also attended by OSCE Chairman-in-office Didier Burkhalter, as well as Herman van Rompuy, president of the European Council, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, and a number of other foreign dignitaries. Russia was represented by Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov.
Voicing support for Ukraine
‘I have always backed Ukraine’s unity and integrity. Ukraine should stay united. We, Belarusians, and I personally are interested in it,’ Aliaksandr Lukashenka said.
‘The pivotal issue is to rule out any war. The main thing is to calm the Ukrainian people down. There should be no war. Believe me: in some two or three months after this bloodshed everyone will be ashamed of it,’ state-run news agency BelTA guotes the President of Belarus as saying.
When asked on who is guilty in the recent developments in Ukraine, the President of Belarus said: ‘All of us, everyone who was present in the Verkhovna Rada today. There is no need to put all the blame on [Vladimir] Putin,’ he said.
Сrimea as a stumbling block
Speaking to reporters after the inauguration, Mr Lukashenka said that Crimea was de facto Russia’s territory. ‘But since there has been no legal decision I advise the government to continue holding talks,’ Ukrainian media outlets quoted him as saying.
‘Media created terrorists’
Commenting on the events taking place in the south-east of Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenko admitted he was not fully aware of the whole situation. ‘As I see it, these formations have been created by you, the media. To make them real states, this idea should be present in the heart of every person. I do not think there are many adherers there. You will address this issue yourselves. I am not a big expert of the Ukrainian south-east. I am not even fully informed on the Kyiv situation, never mind the south-east of Ukraine. Hence I cannot talk as an expert. I can talk emotionally, that it is,’ Mr Lukashenka noted.
At that, he said that ‘terrorists’ who kill people should be killed. ‘But you should sort out first who are terrorists, or else you will kill your own people,’ he warned.
Whose side does Belarus take?
Mr Lukashenka used the occasion to reiterate that there was and would be no troop build-up at Belarus’ Ukrainian border. ‘We have nothing to divide with the Ukrainians. We are brothers,’ he said.
Belarus has never had any problems with the near-border regions of Ukraine, the President said. According to him, Belarus provides all possible assistance to Ukraine during its sowing and harvesting campaigns, the same as it does in respect to the near-border regions of Russia.
‘It is a big belt of neighborliness. We have never had problems there and will never have. Ukrainians will never fight against us,’ Mr Lukashenka said. ‘Thus, no armed forces of the NATO, Russia or Poland have been deployed on our territory against Ukraine, never mind the Belarusian units.’
Belarus and Ukraine used to have $7 billion in mutual trade, Mr lukashenka stressed. ‘I believe that we can reach $15 billion in the next five-year period,’ he said. The President of Belarus emphasized the country’s readiness to build up all-round cooperation. ‘I was surprised that even during the recent events in Ukraine we had our trade turnover reduced by only 3%. It speaks volumes. We are in demand here,’ the Belarusian leader said.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka called on the Ukrainian government on Saturday to allow former President Viktor Yanukovych to return to the country and face no charges.
Viktor Yanukovych had not asked him for asylum, Mr Lukashenka stated. ‘But if he comes, there’s a village where his parents were born and probably no one may strip him of the right to go there,’ Ukrainian media outlets quoted him as saying.
‘But my advice to you is to take your president back to Ukraine,” he added. “Let him stay in your country, no matter how bad he is. If something depends on me I will help. Step over everything and take him back to Ukraine.’
www.belsat.eu/en, following BelaPAN, BelTA