21 September 2017, Thursday, 4:20

Edward Lucas: West Should Focus On Belarus

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EDWARD LUCAS

The ignoring of the Belarusian problems by Europe does not lead to anything good.

Edward Lucas, senior editor of the British liberal edition The Economist, has told Svaboda about the threats that the West-2017 exercises might carry, and about the attempts of Western politicians to hold Lukashenka in check:

– I believe that we are at risk when we do not pay attention to Belarus. This country is situated in the geopolitical heart of Europe and it has the last dictatorship. There are so many issues that we do not attach importance to, though we should.

I hope that the West-2017 exercises will raise Belarus higher on the Western countries’ agenda. We need to know, first, how they will look like, and secondly, what will happen after these exercises. Will there be any provocations and political consequences of the exercises?

We cannot have any relations with the Belarusian "parliament" and "government," but we must open our universities, markets and other spheres of our society for Belarusians. We want the Belarusians to feel themselves as a part of Europe, we want to compete with Russia in this.

We have tried a lot things regarding Belarus: we have been tough, have tried to be gentle, tried to ignore Belarus, thinking that the problems would be solved themselves, but nothing happened. No one can look at the Western policy towards Belarus and say: "Guys, you've done a good job."