16 December 2017, Saturday, 2:40

Andrei Sannikov: Lukashenka’s Lobbyists Failed

10
ANDREI SANNIKOV

The dictator has been made clear he is undesirable in Europe.

Leader of the “European Belarus” civil campaign Andrei Sannikov said this in an interview to the website Charter97.org.

— In your opinion, what is Lukashenka’s refusal to go to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels is connected with?

— This is not Lukashenka’s refusal. I think he was finally made clear he was undesirable here. At least the European politicians, with whom I talked at the recently ended Halifax forum, said that it was a mistake to invite Lukashenka.

That is, the lobbyists of Lukashenka's participation in the summit failed. We know that Latvia and some other Central European countries played the key parts here. But the actions of Lukashenka himself, who again increased pressure on the opposition, civil society, independent press — questioned his participation in the summit.

I want to remind you that Lukashenka's lobbyists explained his invitation by the fact that he played a "constructive role" in the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine. But today he unleashed a war with Ukraine and demonstrated his real position.

— They say that despite the official invitation, no leader of the European countries planned to meet with the dictator.

— Yes. And there was an appeal by the leaders of the Belarusian National Congress Statkevich and Niakliaeu that Lukashenka's presence in Brussels was inappropriate. The Belarusian diaspora also prepared to meet the dictator with dignity. It is very important to give our own assessment to all the attempts of the European politicians to make friends with dictators. All this played its role. Europeans did not want to get involved in questionable events.

— Due to the recent exacerbation of relations with Ukraine, what should be the actions of the international community regarding the Lukashenka regime? Can Minsk remain a "negotiating platform" between Russia and Ukraine?

— Here, everything depends on Ukraine’s actions. It was obvious that Minsk had never been the ground for real negotiations, but was used by the Kremlin to serve its purposes. Lukashenka is not a supporter of reforms in Ukraine, but uses the situation in order to cash in on the tragedy of the Ukrainian people. Therefore, everything depends on Ukraine. Both on its civil society and the politicians.

— What should they do?

— First, they must word a clear position with regard to the events happening in Belarus today. Secondly, they must define their attitude to the essence of the regime in Belarus and build up the relations in accordance with that, not befriend with the dictator, trying to become a European state at the same time.

— What do you think about the idea that it is needed to impose the same sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime as against Putin, because the dictatorial regime in Belarus is the Russian regime’s partner in crime?

— I stand for justice to triumph on an international scale, since it is absent in Belarus. Sanctions should be imposed on serial criminals.