The European Union should impose tougher sanctions against the Belarusian government and boycott the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk, Hans-Georg Wieck, a former head of the now closed OSCE Minsk Office between 1997 and 2001, said in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
“Lukashenka is a big fan of hockey and an active player who participates in contests that he himself organizes,” Dr. Wieck said. “The world championship for him is an opportunity to assert himself. There are vivid historical examples of dictators using sports events to demonstrate that the whole world worships them. Just recall the 1936 Berlin Olympics.”
A boycott of the tournament would be a painful blow to the Belarusian leader, Dr. Wieck said.
As for sanctions, Dr. Wieck noted that the EU had imposed restrictions only against companies run by members of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s innermost circle.
Dr. Wieck said that it had become much easier for citizens of Belarus to obtain a Schengen visa. Brussels invites Belarus to hold visa talks, but Minsk ignores the invitations, he said.
When asked whether so many years without change in Belarus filled him with despair, Dr. Wieck said, “If some clan or regime manages to amass virtually unlimited powers in a country, they can intimidate and suppress the population for years and decades. But sooner or later, negative trends in authoritarian regimes become dominant. I have witnessed the collapse of many authoritarian regimes in my long life. Open societies can go through crisis periods, but they recover. Authoritarian regimes are destined to collapse.”
The 84-year-old Wieck served as ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Soviet Union between 1977 and 1980, permanent representative of the Federal Republic to NATO between 1980 and 1985 and president of the Federal Intelligence Service between 1985 and 1990. In 1998 – 2001 he headed OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group in Minsk.