Last week, Hans-Georg Wieck was threatened to be expelled by the Belarusian minister of foreign affairs. The other day, he was summoned to a meeting with the KGB, which claims he is preparing the overthrow of president Aleksandr Lukashenko. His life as head of the OSCE mission to Minsk seems to be in jeopardy. Yet he appeared relaxed during his visit in Stockholm this Wednesday.
"I accept the difficulties as they come. My forty years in the diplomatic service are over, so I am a free man. I take on the tasks I like, not having to consider my future career or having to please anyone. And back home in Berlin I have plenty of interesting things to do, should it come to that." says Dr Wieck. Annoying the Belarusian authorities, is the OSCE undertaking to train some fourteen thousand domestic observers for the upcoming presidential elections in September. Or, rather, to finance their training through a network of Belarusian NGOs. The authorities has another name for those activities: "training of terrorists". Hans-Georg Wieck prefers not to dramatize. He does not want to appear an enemy of the Belarusian regime: "No, we are supporting a democratization process in which the authorities themselves are taking part. When the parliamentary elections last fall were being monitored by the domestic observers it was the opposition that protested, since they were boycotting the elections. So it is wrong to say that we work for the opposition. The society should simply know how the election processes are being handled."
Then, in October last year, a great deal of cheating was revealed. Many candidates critical to the regime were denied registration, and at an election day voters lists where manipulated in districts where low voter turnout should have rendered the elections invalid.
Wieck thinks that the current noise from the authorities may be because they are fearing a similar conduct from the election monitors: "That the non-governmental organizations would announce a manipulated victory result for the opposition candidate, before they have time to make their figures public. Which would then cause unrest in the country."
But he does not seem to believe in any radical solution to Belarus` problems. "The situation is a more subtle one, a climate of intimidation affecting the citizens. This takes patience and creativity to change." says Wieck.
He may have had his present job only since 1998, but Hans-Georg Wieck is no rookie to the area. As far back as in the 50s he served as a West German diplomat in the Soviet Union, and in the late 70:s he returned as ambassador to Moscow. He feels he knows the people and their history, and that they know him. "When the Second World War ended, I was seventeen. I remember what it was like to live in an authoritarian system. I understand the attitudes of people, and that not everyone can be a hero every day. That is why I do not make so many demands but rather try to make them think about what they are doing, to help them make less mistakes."
Despite, or perhaps because, of Dr Wieck`s moderate strategy, the OSCE mission has fallen prey to the discontent of the KGB. "They took perfectly public information from us and compiled what they call a `secret report`", Wieck exclaims. Apparently, he does not have much respect for the KGB`s allegations. Perhaps because he himself was head of the West German intelligence service during five years in the 80s. A fact that the KGB uses to discredit him. "Actually, it is the best merit you can have. I do not have much operative experience, but I am used to working with and analyzing other countries. You know, the word `intelligence` has to do with `intelligent`."