In an interview with France’s Le Figaro daily newspaper, the Belarusian President has spoken of relations with the European Union and Russia, while assessing the actions of the opposition in the current presidential campaign. Pierre Avril, a correspondent with the Le Figaro, asked Mr. Lukashenko over 30 questions, to which he received unambiguous and comprehensive answers. Speaking of co-operation prospects with the EU (the traditional question asked by European journalists), Mr. Lukashenko underlined, “We’re doing everything we can to have normal, good relations with our western partner.”
According to the President, all Belarus’ recent initiatives have focused on this goal. “We’re good pupils. We’re ready to learn everything that corresponds to the interests of the Belarusian nation from you, and anything that doesn’t create obstacles for our neighbours,” the Belarusian leader emphasised. He explained that, if EU policy solely relies on dictating conditions and pushing us towards certain actions for which we aren’t ready — for objective reasons, this policy won’t ever find understanding. “We have our country and our nation. The Belarusian state will exist: independent and sovereign. Therefore, we’ll be ensuring our independence and sovereignty and acting, primarily, in the interests of our Belarusian people,” Mr. Lukashenko stressed, showing his unchanged position.
As to why Belarus-EU relations are taking a long time to become established, the Belarusian President notes that the answer to this question should be searched for in Brussels, rather than Minsk. According to Mr. Lukashenko, the EU’s current policy towards our country causes disappointment.
The French journalist was also keen to discover what spoilt our relations with Russia and whether Belarus might merge with its eastern neighbour. “There’s no sharp worsening of our relationship, since neither we nor Russia need it,” asserted Mr. Lukashenko. Speaking of Moscow’s ambitions, he added, “I believe you’re well aware that the Russian leadership wanted to join Belarus to Russia. However, I don’t think that it still pursues the same goals.”
Analysing Moscow’s current policy, the Belarusian President explained, “Russia is making the same mistakes as the EU. It’s necessary to take the situation into account: there’s the Belarusian state and the Belarusian nation. For any president, whoever occupies this post, protecting Belarusian interests is a holy duty.”
The journalist next asked why Mr. Lukashenko hadn’t met Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, on his recent trip to Minsk? “We didn’t plan this meeting,” he calmly explained. As to whether Russia supports the Belarusian opposition, Mr. Lukashenko noted, “This is true. We know for a fact that Nekliaev and Sunnikov [candidates for presidential elections on December 19th — author] are being financed by Russia.”
The French journalist was keen to find out about the forthcoming elections in every possible aspect and began by asking the Belarusian President to comment on the statements of some of the other candidates regarding the illusion of an electoral campaign in Belarus. “If the presidential campaign is an illusion for them, then they have a right not to participate in this illusion. If they are real politicians, they must take responsibility and fight for this post,” Mr. Lukashenko mused, adding, “In my opinion, they aren’t ready to lead the campaign.”
The President also commented on the speeches of some opposition candidates. “The amount of spite they radiate will only scare people and can only result in people not voting for them at all,” he said. “Presidential candidates should offer good things to people. Pouring malice into the nation via television is not the way forward in Belarus.”
Finally, Mr. Lukashenko was asked whether, if he wins the elections, he’ll consider setting up contacts between the official authorities and the opposition. “If a citizen, a group of people or a party is willing to co-operate with the authorities, they are welcome to. However, improving people’s lives must be the basis for this,” he explained. Mr. Lukashenko believes that, at present, the opposition adheres to the principle of ‘the worse it is for the people, the better it is for them’. He has no plans to collaborate with anyone harbouring such views.