Exchange of opinions determines rational approach
Alexander Lukashenko hopes that positive trends between Belarus and USA will mark a new stage in bilateral relations. The Belarusian Head of State asserted this as he met US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Dr. Michael Carpenter
According to the President, some positive trends have been recently outlined with the western world and with the USA. “I’d like this to become a new stage in our relations,” noted Mr. Lukashenko. He added that relations between Belarus and Western countries are highly politicised, saying, “We should pay more attention to the economy and trade-economic relations with the United States and the European Union. It would lay the foundation for building good relations across all spheres.”
Belarus is ready to discuss any problems with western partners and to co-operate with the USA. “Not only because it’s a global empire and a leading state of the world with which everyone co-operates,” said Mr. Lukashenko. He underlined that a respectful attitude has formed in Belarusian society towards America, and even past sanctions against Belarus haven’t hampered this. “Our nation is kind and educated and is well aware of the processes happening worldwide,” noted Mr. Lukashenko, who is keen to embrace the wishes of Belarusian and American citizens in building bridges.
Mr. Lukashenko underlined the defensive character of Belarus’ military doctrine, commenting, “Our military doctrine is purely defensive. We’ll never attack anyone or use weapons against any country. Our neighbours won’t ever be able to point their fingers at us in this respect.”
The Head of State noted that Belarus is a CSTO member and asserted that Belarus’ position within the organisation is simple. He stressed, “We won’t ever fight on other’s territory, because we’re adhering to a defensive doctrine. If someone tries to attack us, we’ll defend ourselves, as well as fulfilling our obligations towards Russia as an ally. The most vital aspect for us is to protect the integrity and sovereignty of our country and to counteract any threat, wherever it comes from.”
Mr. Lukashenko noted that Belarus values international opinion regarding its role in the settlement of the Ukrainian conflict. The Head of State emphasises that Belarus will always be committed to principles of peace, and seeks no war in Ukraine. “There have never been any threats to Ukraine from our land and never will be. We pursue a peace-loving policy and will do our best to normalise the situation in Ukraine,” the President highlighted.
Mr. Lukashenko said that 160,000 Ukrainian citizens, who have been obliged to leave their country because of the conflict, currently reside on Belarusian territory. He notes that they have been granted equal rights in Belarus with citizens of our country, being given employment and their children able to attend Belarusian kindergartens and schools. Mr. Lukashenko noted that threats present in Eastern Europe could ‘seriously affect the general situation in Europe, if not today, then tomorrow’.
He believes, “Without the USA, it’s impossible to balance the situation here, I mean the situation in Ukraine and other trends.” Emphasising that this is his solid conviction, he recalled having many times publicly declared this, even before the ‘Normandy Four’ summit in Minsk.
Belarus is not overenthusiastic about the activation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the so-called promotion of NATO in the East. “We cannot but respond to it because it’s happening near our borders,” said the Belarusian leader. He added that he doesn’t want to demonise or exaggerate this process and doesn’t believe that NATO will attack Russia or Belarus. “It’s impossible and unnecessary under the current conditions,” he noted.
Moreover, the Belarusian Head of State is convinced that neither the USA nor Europe needs another conflict in the Eastern European region. “I believe, and it is declared in the policy of the USA, that America absolutely wants to see a peaceful and independent Belarus,” stressed Mr. Lukashenko. The President believes that the United States of America desires peace and accord in Europe.
A new stage is opening up in Belarus-USA relations, having launched via serious dialogue across a broad agenda. The President recently met Michael Carpenter, of the US Department of Defence, discussing a spectrum of issues. Belarus is receiving far more western officials, although most still from Europe rather than the USA. The guest from the Pentagon occupies a special place among these visitors, being in a position to activate contacts across so many levels.
Since 2008, bilateral diplomatic interaction between the USA and Belarus has fallen significantly, with hardly any military-diplomatic liaisons. Now, we are restoring the placement of military attaches, hoping to address this omission. We must attend to mutual interests, settling challenges with the help of the USA, which remains an influential player on the world arena.
In his conversation with Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Lukashenko highlighted problems of European security, especially regarding the threats faced by Western Europe. Tension in the East doesn’t strengthen the stability of Europe, or vice versa.
By Vladimir Mikhailovsky