Stability is focal point

Alexander Lukashenko has cast his vote at the presidential elections, at polling station number 1, in Minsk’s Tsentralny (Central) district

Over 20 observers were present, including those from abroad: the UK, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Russia and Azerbaijan. Speaking to international observers, Mr. Lukashenko stressed that Belarus has no intention of resorting to any means to gain international recognition of the presidential elections. “We won’t beg for international recognition on our hands and knees,” he said. “There’s no need to constantly place conditions on us; we’ll settle the issue independently. We feel good within the international community.”

Mr. Lukashenko also confirmed his intention to develop partner relations with the West, though only on the basis of equal rights. “If one door is closed, we’ll go to where another is open,” he noted. He stressed the need to expand co-operation with Scandinavian states. “We aren’t working at our full strength there. This vector should be obligatorily strengthened, since these countries are similar to Belarus.”

The election campaign at polling station number 1 was covered by about 100 journalists, from almost 40 media from Belarus and abroad. Mr. Lukashenko answered their questions, commenting upon announcements previously made by his opponents. Regarding claims of falsification of vote counting, he stressed that such claims can only be made once elections are over. He believes that such statements by opposition candidates show their feelings of impotence.

Journalists asked Mr. Lukashenko to respond to the printed media’s claims that he made a range of anti-Russia statements on meeting the Estonian Foreign Minister. In particular, they noted that he claimed Russia had provoked the war against Georgia. The Head of State stressed that he is always very cautious in his statements to foreign diplomats. “As regards foreign states — especially Western — I assure you that I’m extremely careful and cautious with them, even during confidential talks,” he noted. Mr. Lukashenko also said that it’s necessary to look at his original words; he was apprehensive about delving into the matter but said, “I stress: nothing of the kind happened. Everything I said about South Ossetia and Abkhazia was open and frank. Everything I said regarding Russia I’ve said before — and even more.”

Mr. Lukashenko expressed his confidence that, after the elections, Belarus will boast perfect relations with Russia and, at the very least, good relations with the USA. Speaking of whether an American Ambassador might return to Belarus, Mr. Lukashenko noted that this depends on the Ambassador personally. “This is their right: if they wish to return, let them return. If they don’t, let them stay in Washington; probably, it’s more convenient for the Ambassador to work there,” he added.

As regards relations between Belarus and the EU, Mr. Lukashenko noted that they’ll be as positive as the EU wishes. “Many times already, we’ve spoken of our hopes for the European Union and for how we’d like relations to develop. Everything depends on how much the EU wishes this. If you want to have good and kind relations with us, you are welcome; we are ready to co-operate with you. If you don’t desire this, as in previous years, we cannot push you,” he said.

Answering a question from a Georgian journalist, Mr. Lukashenko said that Belarus is building friendly relations with Georgia, stressing, “We have always had very good relations with Georgia. It’s a very friendly republic and nation, with whom we have good relations. Believe me, we are not going to spoil these.”

One of the questions dealt with dialogue with the opposition. The President noted that he is ready to co-operate with anyone who advocates stability and security in Belarus. Mr. Lukashenko stressed, “I’m ready to collaborate with anyone — with the opposition or otherwise; however, they must desire to live in their country and provide for its independence, so that our country remains calm and beautiful — as I wish.” The President then added that it’s important to ensure that foreign guests come to our country and co-operate with us, while also feeling free to stay and travel.

The Head of State noted that he has been confidently moving towards his participation in the elections, explaining that he feels great support from people. “If I hadn’t felt this, I wouldn’t have proposed my candidacy as President,” he said, emphasising, “We have wonderful people. In difficult times, I go to the people. From their multitudinous opinions, many complicated solutions are found.” The Head of State added that he has no plans to celebrate a presidential election win. “Those who consider that everything ends with the elections, know nothing about politics and the life of the state. For the President, work begins after the elections. If everything goes smoothly, tomorrow, I’ll be thinking about the future of the country, not celebrating anything,” Mr. Lukashenko asserted.

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