Andrius Kubilius: The European Union must have a clear strategy for Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine
15:19, — Politics
Lithuanian Prime-Minister Andrius Kubilius met with Natallia Radzina, the editor of ñharter97.org.
During the meeting were discussed such topics as the condition of political prisoners in Belarus and what should be the EU reaction on political situation in the country. Lithuanian prime-minister gave its exclusive interview to the website charter97.org.
- For years of your premiership you have seen that Lukashenko regime is not capable for a dialogue with Europe, it disrupts any arrangements and increases repressions inside of the country, trying to stay in charge. What solution do you see for Belarusian problem?
- There are two important moments. I believe that, historically, Belarus and Russia, maybe with some delay, will gravitate to European values. It is a matter of time. That is why I see big importance in what we should do, being a member of the European Union. We must convince Europe to have very clear strategy regarding the countries of East-European space. By the way, integration and gravitation of this region to Europe will also help Russia to pass through post-imperial transformation. It is really important to have very clear tactics in this strategy about how to help neighbor-states of the EU. And, from my point of view, key countries of that process are Moldova and Ukraine. If Europe will not make mistakes in relation to Ukraine and will find mechanisms to bring it closer to the European Union, this will influence a lot on what will be going on in Belarus.
- And what, in your opinion, should be this strategy? So far Europe has failed to even reach a consensus about introducing economic sanctions against Belarusian dictatorship.
- Clear strategy is necessary. Europe, of course, has to answer the question: how to bring Belarus closer to Europe without making such steps which would send it to Kremlin. And sanctions in this question are a double-edged sword. I think that Europe requires a broader view on all east-European space: on Belarus, Ukraine, Russia. Belarus is a special case: If no significant changes will happen around it, then it will be difficult to change something in Belarus itself.
- But Russian and Ukrainian democrats speak today about “Lukashencozation” of Ukraine and Russia. Maybe we should finally solve the Belarusian problem?
- One can speak long about that. But one should keep in mind that we, Baltic countries, were lucky in our opportunity to join the European Union from the very beginning, and we were adhering to this path. But at the same time, all the countries east of us have chosen the Chinese way. Some sort of half-market economy with political chain of command, with a parody of real elections. In 1990-s it seemed that the “Cold war” ended with an absolute victory of Western worldview. But this turned out to be a half of the truth. In economics – yes. Here communism and socialism have lost completely. But all this space from Belarus to Central Asia, with some exceptions (Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko), just went another political way. And some time will be required for sure to make it clear that normal economy will not develop without normal democratization.
- An ideal politician for you is Ronald Reagan. In your opinion, how would Reagan handle Belarus, where leaders of the opposition have been killed, political prisoners are in prison, and elections have all been rigged since almost the past 20 years?
- I don’t know what to answer to your question. Of course, you are absolutely right. We all see the condition of human rights and the whole Belarus system. The question is, in what way we can help to solve these problems. I’m trying to say that the key is not in Belarus itself and not in the line “Europe-Belarus”. Europe needs a broader understanding of the Eastern region. Of course, the United States of America could help Europe in that. Without clear strategy to the whole region we will reach nothing. One can even fail to reach the target by focusing only on Belarus and concentrating only on Belarus.
- How do you see Belarus after 5 years?
- Hard to say. I had the opportunity two years ago, maybe being naïve about some things, to conduct another summer tourist trip on bicycles on Belarusian sites and old castles. And I was speaking frankly: travelling across this part of Belarus, you feel that you are travelling across the space of common cultural and historical heritage. Borders in this region, strangely, appeared only in the last 20 years. Passing by old strongholds and cities, you see that this space is European.
- Is it hard for Lithuania to coexist with the dictatorship today?
- Of course, it is far better to have a normal European neighbor. We would like to have neighborhood with Belarus and Russia, as Luxembourg does with Germany. But, again, meeting with Belarusian citizens during my trip, I felt a sense of compassion, understanding of what Belarusians lose because of such situation. I feel sorry, that we do not have normal, democratic state nearby.
Write your comment (41)