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Opinions & Interviews

26 Sep 2019

Lukashenko: Belarus not going to be friends with West against Russia

MINSK, 26 September (BelTA) - Belarus is not going to be friends with the West against Russia, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with representatives of the Ukrainian mass media in Minsk on 26 September, BelTA has learned.

The head of state stressed that when meeting with U.S. officials he always says that the conversation will not work if it is about Belarus’ choice between the East and the West. “This is our position. We will make our own decisions regarding our relations with Russia and China on the one hand, and the EU and the United States on the other. U.S. officials, even high-ranking ones,  have always been okay with that. On the contrary, some pre-empted my condition before the negotiations by publicly stating that they were not setting this condition for Belarus, that they wanted Belarus to work for the benefit of peace and tranquility in Eastern Europe. They said they want to see Belarus sovereign and independent,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

According to him, Belarus welcomes this position of the United States. “We welcome it. It is the largest country that influences all processes in the world. Why should we have a bad relationship with them? In no case!” the Belarusian leader stressed.

He noted that sometimes Belarus' contacts with Western partners cause some concern in Russia. At the same time, Russia itself is trying to develop relations with the West and in particular with the United States, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “Why should this [Belarus' interaction with Western partners] be the reason for concern in Russia. We are not friends with the United States against Russia," the president said.

The Ukrainian mass media asked whether the thaw in the Belarusian-U.S. relations could bode well for and give a start to a new stage in the Belarusian-Ukrainian cooperation. “The position of the United States will not be decisive in the relations between Belarus and Ukraine,” the head of state stressed. "Our relations depend only on us. Yes, we will heed to the opinion of Russia, the United States. But that does not mean our decisions will depend on them. The closer we will get to each other, the more opposition we will face. No one needs us to get very close. Neither Russia nor the United States,” he noted.

“Why was Yugoslavia broken into pieces? Who benefited? This way it is easier to hold sway over it. Think about who benefits from Ukraine not being Ukraine,” the Belarusian leader said.

He noted that, of course, Belarus’ relations with Russia are very different from those of Ukraine. There is a strong relationship in the Belarusian-Russian cooperation. For example, Belarus imports from Russia a number of vital commodities, primarily hydrocarbons, has strong cooperative ties. “I am a Soviet man, with a degree in history. I know the history of our relationship very well. We have always been together. Like Ukraine-Belarus, and even more Russia-Belarus at the level of family, interstate relations. We have close ties in every area,” the head of state said.

“We held a referendum in the country on the relationship between Russia and Belarus. We have open borders. There are problems with the supply of our goods to Russia on the administrative border. It has never been easy. This is not only the level of interstate relations. This is about the corruption of Russian officials. I talk frankly with the Russian president, with whom I am on good terms,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He stressed that he has no problems in relations with his Russian counterpart at all: “We have a very good relationship. There are plenty of other problems that need to be addressed, though.”

“We have problems with Ukraine as well. During the short period that the new president has been in power we have been moving forward discussing things. Those negative moments that could have happened did not happen thanks to the telephone conversation between the two presidents [of Belarus and Ukraine]. This is reassuring. The things that I have not been able to solve for years, having agreed with the former president, I hope will be solved now. So there are enough issues on our agenda,” the Belarusian leader said.

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