Monday, February 16, 2009

Belarus: Certain uncertainty

Hardly had Alexander Lukashenko returned to his homeland from Moscow when the opposition of Belarus accused him of betraying the national interests. They protested against the missile defense agreement with Russia claiming that Lukashenko (the President of Belarus) was in secret talks with Russia.

Oppositionists also set out their concerns regarding the participation of Belarus in the Collective Forces of Rapid Deployment of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. This is a rather strange reproach taking into consideration the fact that Lukashenko refused to accept the conditions of the treaty to let the Belarussian servicemen take part in military actions outside Belarus.

Lukashenko did not have to search for words in his statement. “Some wackos only shatter the nation. If you have certain benefits somewhere, you have to pay something for them, for example providing missile defense for the country from which you receive inexpensive gas. The opposition says that I have sold the sovereignty and sent our men to hotspots. Have any of your children leave to those hotspots? None of them have,” Lukashenko said.

“If you want someone to make advances to you, you are supposed to make advances to them too. Otherwise we will have to switch to world prices, like Germany did. We can be absolutely independent and we will not have to ask Russia for gas. Will we be able to do this ? Now yet. As for some secret talks, I have never been into any secret talks with anyone throughout my presidency,” Lukashenko said.

The Belarussian president did not conceal the problems, which his nation had in the relations with Russia. “Russia has barred the products of several Belarussian enterprises on its markets, certain agricultural products in particular,” Lukashenko said.

It is not really clear, what kind of restrictions Lukashenko was talking about. Vladimiar Zharikhin of the Institute of the CIS told that it was an attempt to obtain the advantage for the Belarussian goods on the Russian market. “Lukashenko views the Russian market as the market of the Unified State. However, he believes that the market of Belarus is the market of a sovereign state,” the expert said.

“This is a typical approach for the administration of Belarus. Let’s remember the previous CIS agreement, according to which all countries of the Commonwealth were supposed to send their troops for combat operations on the post-Soviet territory. Minsk did not send its peacemakers to Abkhazia, but only made several references to the Belarussian Constitution which did not allow the nation’s military men serve anywhere outside Belarus, the expert said.

It is highly important for Russia to develop relations with Minsk and create the joint missile defense system. At the same time, military specialists say that the missile defense system in Belarus is no longer important since the Baltic States are NATO members now. A potential enemy can easily strike Moscow from Lithuania or Estonia bypassing Belarus.

Belarus has been trying to build normal relations with Russia, but it does not forget Europe either. Sergei Martynov, the Foreign Minister of Belarus, has recently visited Germany and released a curious statement about a possible participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership program of the European Union, of which Russia is not a member. “It would assist in the solution of the electric power transit within the framework of member-countries or between the region and the energy system of the European Union,” Martynov said. “Belarus is not going to join the European Union yet, but we plan to participate in cross-border economic programs,” he added.

It seems that Belarus is absolutely uncertain about its future.

Source: Sergei Balmasov - Pravda
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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