Foreign view: the EU against negotiations with Lukashenka, condemnation of Merkel and Putin’s proposal
10 mins

На русском языке: Иностранный взгляд: ЕС против переговоров с Лукашенко, осуждение Меркель и предложение Путина
На беларускай мове: Меркаванне за мяжы: ЕС супраць перамоваў з Лукашэнкам, асуджэнне Меркель і прапанова Пуціна

In recent days, an impressive number of foreign politicians have touched upon the situation in Belarus, the statements concerned not only the migration crisis. In particular, European officials almost unanimously condemned the negotiations of acting Chancellor Angela Merkel with Lukashenka. We decided to collect quotes of foreign politicians so that we could understand the current attitude in the West and in the East to what is happening in Belarus.

Probably, the call of Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, for a dialogue between the official Minsk and the Belarusian opposition should be called the most unexpected fact of the day. His words instantly spread through the media and Telegram channels. However, it is fair to note that Putin didn’t say any names of the Belarusian opposition, and accordingly, at the moment it is impossible to say with whom Putin offered to negotiate. At the same time, he stressed that Russia «will continue to deepen integration processes with Belarus».

«Yes, we know that the situation in Belarus, although calmed down inside the country, but nevertheless there are problems, and we are well aware of this, and of course we call for a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition. For its part, Russia will certainly continue its policy of strengthening ties and deepening integration processes with Belarus. We will implement all 28 recently adopted sectoral union programs for the formation of a common economic space, move to a coordinated macroeconomic, tax, banking and credit policy»,– Putin said, speaking at an expanded meeting of the Board of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Information about the negotiations is a kind of «trend of the week», even before Putin’s statement, for several days there were informational throw-ins about some hypothetical negotiations between the EU and Lukashenka, which spread at the level of conjecture without having any basis. The point in this matter was put by Eric Mamer, the representative of the European Commission. According to him, the attention of Brussels is now focused on helping migrants and exporting them to their homeland, and not on such contacts with Minsk. Noting that if any contacts are possible, it is only on technical issues.

«The issue of negotiations with Lukashenka’s regime is not on the agenda. We will hold technical negotiations with the UN structures, in particular, with the UN Refugee Agency, with the International Organization for Migration and with the Belarusian party regarding the promotion of the repatriation of people at the border. This is what the focus of the negotiations will be, and also, of course, on facilitating the provision of assistance to people who are at the border», –Eric Mamer said.

The issue of negotiations was also touched upon by Mateusz Morawiecki, the Prime Minister of Poland, saying that negotiations to resolve the migration crisis directly with Lukashenka are counterproductive, because they play into his hands.

«Any negotiations directly with Lukashenka legitimize his regime«, – Morawiecki said at a press conference on Thursday.

The Polish Prime Minister also commented on Merkel’s calls to Mr. Lukashenka. Actually, it was from these telephone conversations, which propaganda presented as a «crushing victory«, and various «conspiracy theories» began.

«One thing is for sure: in this crisis, it is impossible to make a decision through our heads. If the telephone conversation was about how migrants from Belarus are returned to their homeland, then each initiative in this direction meets the interests of Poland»,– Morawiecki said.

Other European officials were less restrained and directly criticized the acting German Chancellor for talking to a man who illegally holds power in Belarus. Here are a few statements:

Žygimantas Pavilionis, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament : «Merkel’s appeal undermines all European efforts to resolve the crisis in Belarus. We warned the German Chancellor several times before the phone call not to comply with Putin’s request, but she did not listen. What is needed now is a unified European approach, and I hope that the new federal government will support such an approach. Unfortunately, the old will not».

Sławomir Dębski, the Head of the Polish Institute of International Relations: «The fact that the Chancellor consults with foreign dictators about the Polish border ignores Germany’s historical responsibility to the events of the 20th century. Mrs Merkel should not decide over our heads what is good for Poland and what is not».

Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia,  said he considers the conversation between Chancellor Merkel and Mr. Lukashenko «as another attempt to directly convey the EU’s unanimous message to the Belarusian regime about the unacceptable treatment of the EU’s external borders and third-country nationals – if this doesn’t help, then the hybrid attack will have serious economic consequences».

There were also a number of significant statements that directly relate to the migration crisis at the borders with the EU, but without mentioning the calls of the acting Chancellor of Germany. So Horst Seehofer, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Germany, denied rumors about the reception of migrants from the Belarusian-Polish border: «Rumors that Germany is ready to accept migrants from the Belarusian-Polish border do not correspond to reality». It should also be noted that Margaritis Schinas, the Vice-President of the European Commission, in an interview with the Kurdish channel Rûdaw said that the EU already has evidence of collusion between Minsk and international smuggling networks. The Brussels publication EUobserver also published information from the internal documents of the EU yesterday, that there are groups engaged in illegal migration in Belarus.

In conclusion, we would like to draw attention to the statement of John Bolton, the former US National Security Advisor, on the air of an American TV channel CNBC, where he said that the United States should oust Lukashenka from office and find him a «nice villa on the Riviera». In his opinion, this should be done to prevent Russia’s attempts to regain the former Soviet republic. Since Bolton believes that Putin wants to return the territory of Belarus to Russia.

«The danger is that as the opposition continues to mount its protest, for Lukashenko, if he can’t have an authoritarian government on his own in Belarus, plan B is to call in the Russians to help. And once that happens, the Belarus people themselves may never have an opportunity to get a free government again. […] So, our strategy, I think, should be how to get Lukashenko out of power and finding him a nice villa on the Riviera or something like that. [It is] something we ( U.S. government) ought to consider because if he invites Russia in, I don’t think they are leaving», – Bolton said.

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