In a collective letter addressed to Timothy Geithner, the United States Secretary of the Treasury and the head of the US branch of the IMF, 6 US Senators urging him to vote against ranting a credit to Belarus.
The senators believe that giving a credit to Belarus now would contradict interests of the US and the EU. How participants of this initiative comment on the letter of the senators?
Peter Doran, an expert at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington in an interview to Radio Liberty stated that the address of politicians was timey.
Mr Doran said it is not the time when the world community should throw a life buoy to Lukashenka (Lukashenko). The current economic and political crisis has pushed him closer to the edge than ever before. Now he is waiting for any help from Russia and from the West, from the world community, and from the IMF in particular. While the IMF sent a delegation study the situation in June, the Fund has left a possibility of help. And it was a very sad message, the civil society of Belarus has viewed that as a possibility of Lukashenka’s survival thanks to this help. In his turn Lukashenka wants people to believe he would manage to find money. So the aim of this letter of representatives of the both parties to the Secretary is to make it clear that such assistance would be ill-timed.
Reporter: Will giving money inflict harm to the civil society of Belarus?
Doran: As long as currency crisis has aggravated the general economic situation, more and more common citizens become indignant at the governmental policies. It is manifested in organized and spontaneous protests in Minsk.
Now Europe and the US demonstrate an unprecedented level of cooperation in terms of politics towards the last dictatorship in Europe, as Lukashenka’s regime is often called. it is a unique moment. Last time when the IMF considered support package for Belarus, the US was against, while European members of the IMF voted in favour.
The key point in this letter is to stress this cooperation between the US and the EU after the election in December and to work out a common stand of the EU and the US concerning financial aid to Belarus. And also to send a signal to opposition that the West views Lukashenka’s regime as unacceptable and would like to get rid of it.
Reporter: And could denial of financial support by the West push Belarus into Russia’s embrace?
Doran: It is obvious, Russia has become the last country to which Belarus could address. And looking at the position of the Russian government throughout the year, growth of dissatisfaction over Lukashenka’s regime is noticeable. For more than 10 years Lukashenka stayed in power thanks to Russia’s subsidies. There are no those subsidies any more, they have been interrupted. And in response Lukashenka is looking for other financial sources of rescue. Sooner or later all of them are to become exhausted, and when it happens, Lukashenka would have to either reform the economy or, which is more preferable, the people would overthrow him in favour of a more democratic, pro-Western, market leader.
David Swartz, the first US ambassador to the Republic of Belarus believes that both Europe and the EU will be against granting credits.
Swartz: Lukashenka would have to make not only tactical steps, for instance, to release political prisoners, but strategically irreversible steps, which would turn Belarus from Lukashenka’s ideology towards greater rapprochement with the world community. As for the threat of being pressed into Russia, the West can play better than before. We have great fear this can happen, and it is a very difficult situation.
One of the authors of the letter to the US Secretary of Treasury, Senator Joseph Lieberman, explained his position in a letter in the following way:
Lieberman: Together with my colleagues I have written a letter to the Secretary of Treasury with an offer to counteract granting new IMF credits for the government of Lukashenka, as we believe that these means would be used by Lukashenka only, in order to support his illegitimate and repressive rule.
We hope that the US and the EU would work together in the next few weeks in order to make it understand that the world community is not going to subsidize Lukashenka’s continuing seizure of power. We must firmly stand on the side of the Belarusian nation, whose courage was inspiring all of us in the Congress, and increase pressure on Lukashenka. I am impatiently waiting for a day when Belarus returns into the Euro-Atlantic community of free nations, and I am more and more sure this day is near at hand.