Milinkevich offers help to Lukashenka

Talking to Reuters, Aliaksandr Milinkevich offered his assistance to the current authorities in Belarus to develop economic relations with the West.

One day before, Aliaksandr Lukashenka had given his interview to Reuters, making it very clear that Belarus needed cooperation with the West. “We stood on one foot, but we should stand on the both. We are located between the West and Russia; we are a bridge between Russia and the West,” Lukashenka said.

According to the president, Belarus is absolutely ready to seek contacts with the West, but on certain conditions. Lukashenka stressed that the West should not put forward the impossible demands. Firstly, we should not destroy our political system. Secondly, resignation of the current president cannot be a condition, he said.

In his turn, Milinkevich has also set conditions. “I am ready for joint coordinated actions, but the regime must start releasing the political prisoners, and give freedom to the press, political parties and NGOs,” he told Reuters.

[Recently, we have observed a certain tendency of in absentia dialogues between the two leaders – the leader of the opposition and the head of the state. We remind that both Aliaksandr Lukashenka and Aliaksandr Milinikevich gave interviews to the German newspaper Die Welt. This time it was Reuters that attempted to open debates between the two politicians. By the way, in the both cases, the initiative came from the European media.]

Milinkevich did not stop with an interview to Reuters. The former presidential contender sent an open letter to Aliaksandr Lukashenka, calling on the president to cooperate. Unfortunately, Milinkevich was not available for an interview, because he was on the way to Brussels, where the European Parliament hosts the Belarus Day on February 8. But, we approached his spokesman Pavel Mazhejka with the question why Milinkevich wrote such a letter.

“When sending this letter to Lukashenka, Milinkevich understood that he could get under the fire from the pro-democracy activists. But, what important is that this dialogue proposal is for the sake of the future of Belarus. Belarus should restore its European wing, which is missing now. The aim of the letter was to propose a certain compromise.

It does not mean that we overlook whatever has happened during Lukashenka’s rule, including the disappearances of his opponents, political prisoners and the destruction of a free press. But, we want to say that for the sake of the future of Belarus and on condition that our demands are met, we are ready to foster contacts between Belarus and Europe,” Mazhejka told the European Radio for Belarus.

What are the views of the other representatives of the opposition camp? During the recent meeting of the Political Council of the united pro-democracy forces, they discussed the possibilities for a dialogue between the opposition and the authorities.

“Such public statements should be voiced only after a common joint position has been approved. Moreover, the common position is there. Aliaksandr Milinkevich has made a statement today. Does it mean that tomorrow Siargej Kaliakin has to propose his services to Lukashenka? And, does Vincuk Viachorka have to do in a week time? There must be one statement on behalf of the whole coalition. I think that tactically such behavior is not completely righteous and adequate,” said Anatol Liabedzka, the leader of the United Civil Party.

In the view of Uladzimir Matskevich, a prominent political commentator, the assistance offer is a very useful move. Unfortunately, even of the authorities agree to accept this proposal, it will not bring this country to the full democratization.

“I think it is a very sound proposal. If the regime agreed to this proposal, it would be advantageous to all. This can improve indeed the general situation in the society and succeed in releasing all the political prisoners in Belarus. It could become a first step towards the democratization and liberalization of this country.

This move could be made even during the current regime. The other thing is that this regime will not implement a true democratization, because a regime can withhold certain democratization, but it is not able to do it indefinitely. Anyway, we need to start moving. That’s why I would only welcome this process,” Matskevich told the European Radio for Belarus.

The press office of Aliaksandr Lukashenka has refused to comment on the matter.