19 February 2019, Tuesday, 15:03
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Mikalai Statkevich: I'm Ready to Follow Juan Guaido's Example

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Mikalai Statkevich

Events in Venezuela are a precedent for the whole world.

In late January, Santo Domingo hosted a meeting of the Council of the Socialist International, an association of more than 100 social democratic parties of the world.

Presidential candidate of the Belarusian National Congress, leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (People's Hramada) Mikalai Statkevich, who took part in the meeting, told Charter97.org about the international forum and the impact of events in Venezuela on the situation in Belarus.

- Were you the only representative of Belarus at the meeting of the Council of the Socialist International in Santo Domingo?

- Yes. The People's Hramada Party is the only party of Belarus which has membership in the Council. The Council is the supreme body of the organization. Its meetings are held every six months. More than 100 countries are included in the Socialist International.

First, it's the platform where social democrats meet, even from countries that are at war with each other. For example, representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Israeli Labor Party. At meetings one can hear an emotional polemic between Armenian and Azeri social democrats.

Second, it promotes freedom, justice and solidarity. The experience of successful regions of the world shows that freedom comes together with justice and solidarity. By justice, we mean the equality of all people before the law, equal opportunities for education, health care and so on.

Mikalai Statkevich

I head the Socialist International Committee for the CIS, the Black Sea and Trans-Caucasian regions. Of course, the international forum pointed out my recent nomination as a presidential candidate from the Belarusian National Congress. Secretary General of the Socialist International Luis Ayala stated that at the beginning of the meeting and stressed the importance of my willingness to fight despite repressions, pressure and long prison sentences.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that the Socialist International would keep a close eye on actions of the Belarusian authorities towards me and, if necessary, would do its best to handicap the Belarusian authorities.

- You also reported on the situation in Belarus. How was it taken by participants of the conference?

- I used the platform of the Socialist International to address the Russian government represented by the Fair Russia Party. I showed readiness to respect their right to security, to take into account their interests, but we demand to take into account the right of our people to freedom, democracy, national development and change of power.

Russian generals are tempted to take advantage of our struggle against the dictatorship and intervene to seize the territory of the "strategic balcony" (Belarus). But I have clearly stated that our people will not accept any attempts to undermine independence of the country and to return the hated dictator. Then good moods of the majority of Belarusians to Russia will turn into the opposite, while the Belarusian "balcony" will turn into a "trap".

- The Dominican Republic is almost a neighbor of Venezuela. How does the Latin American region assess the events in Venezuela and the prospect of removing Maduro from power?

- The Socialist International includes several parties of Venezuela. One of them is the People's Will Party, headed by the interim president of the country, Juan Guaido. After my speech Venezuelan colleagues came to me and thanked me because I was one of the first with my report to recall the events in Venezuela and to compare former President Maduro with his friend, former President Lukashenka.

Both are no longer legitimate presidents in the eyes of the international community. A resolution was adopted in support of democracy in Venezuela and those powers which are now trying to revive the country after the collapse caused by the Maduro regime.

- What do you think about events in Venezuela?

- Strange as it may seem, but Maduro has recently had more support in Venezuela than Lukashenka in Belarus. A large stratum of the population has been supported by petrodollars; it has been living in extreme poverty since the reign of Hugo Chavez. At the same time, nothing was done to give people jobs, to drastically change the situation. When oil prices dropped, the authorities could no longer support the major part of the Venezuelan population.

But 25-30% of the Venezuelan population are people who are the backbone of the regime. I don't think Lukashenka can boast of such support now. It is at least halved.

It is worth noting that the United States of America observe the situation in Venezuela. We should take into account the fact that the Venezuelan regime is based on oil sales to America. If oil exports is blocked, we will soon observe the collapse of the Venezuelan regime.

There will be a precedent. The mechanism when dictatorial regimes based on oil sales are held liable.

I think the Russian authorities are also following these events. If the power changes in Venezuela, which is the world's first in oil reserves, and Venezuelan oil fields will be in good hands, the US will have an ability to influence, to some extent, the distribution and production of oil in Venezuela.

If necessary, it makes the drop in world oil prices possible, as well as effecting any oil-based regimes.

If necessary, it will be possible to use this scenario for Russia. Imagine what will happen to Putin if oil prices drop or if there is an embargo on oil exports to Western countries?

What then will happen to recovering, control over neighboring countries, threats to the West and so on? After all, all these plans are paid by the West itself.

Actually, it's a very interesting moment. We underestimate the situation if we mean only one regime that has pushed the country over the edge. In fact, much more significant things take place. If we can bring Venezuela back to democracy, and it's more than 50 percent, a worldwide precedent will be created. As a result, regimes will listen to the people, change their line in the country and abroad, because their turn may come. This is the main conclusion.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

- You will be a representative of the BNC on the presidential elections. What conclusions can be made for the political campaign in Belarus from actions of the Venezuelan opposition?

- First, I'd like to thank once again partners of the Belarusian National Congress for the responsibility allocated to me. In fact, the BNC is the largest and only effective democratic coalition in Belarus. I'd like to remind that it includes heads of seven public organizations and two parties, as well as heads of 14 regional coalitions. They represent absolutely all Belarusian opposition parties.

All these people are high-level politicians. So far, they have unanimously agreed to elect one candidate for upcoming elections. It's a great responsibility.

We will use the experience of all countries. The experience of Armenia was very useful to us, and now Venezuela, which confirms the tactics we used earlier - peaceful, long-term protest.

Another conclusion made on Venezuela is the importance of international factor. Events in Venezuela are unique because under the regime that calls its leader the president, the world's leading countries have recognized the leader of the opposition as president.

I'd like to stress that it's the most important precedent for us. If we are active and persistent and real victory of the BNC, the leader can be recognized as the current president despite figures the current authorities may invent.

- If you win the upcoming elections in Belarus, are you ready, following the example of Juan Guaido, to declare yourself an interim president?

- Yeah, of course. I think nobody in Belarus doubts my intention to act.

Photo: Getty Images

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