Thursday, December 2

Belarus: An atypical situation calls for atypical tools | View


Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced a conference on the political crisis in Belarus, scheduled for Monday, November 22. The following is the assessment of the Belarusian diplomat and opposition leader, Pavel Latushka, on the measures to be taken.

World history knows many examples of external mediation to resolve internal political crises, when the degree of contradictions within a country does not allow an agreement or compromise.

To develop scenarios for possible mediation over Belarus, it is necessary to give a clear idea of ​​the situation inside, as well as to understand the intentions of the illegitimate authorities who continue to exercise power in the country by force.

I agree with the opinion of one of the leading independent Belarusian sociologists, Andrei Vardomatsky, who defined present-day Belarus as “the country of asphalt anger”.

According to him, only 18.5% of Belarusians support the dictator Lukashenko. This is not that different from data from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), which found that 30% of Belarusians are willing to support Lukashenko while the overwhelming majority advocate for early presidential elections.

The dictator tries to present the repressed (but not stifled) protests of the Belarusians as a change in public opinion, towards him personally and towards his policies.

But it is no secret to anyone that the illusory calm is the consequence of the most massive repression campaign carried out in the history of 21st century Europe.

Lukashenk® still holds power thanks to only two factors: the support of Russia and the support of the security apparatus, which has created a climate of fear in Belarusian society.

The crisis in the Republic of Belarus is not only related to the internal repression of civilians, but has also crossed state borders. The dictatorial regime is destabilizing the situation within the EU and creating real threats to EU allies like Ukraine.

The Russian factor

A geopolitical game is being played on Belarusian territory, where Russia is trying to fix its peremptory influence and control over our country.

Russia regards Belarus as its exclusive area of ​​interest. The Kremlin does not want Lukashenko in particular, and Belarus as a whole, to create a precedent for handovers of power under pressure from the people. This would pose a limited, but still real, threat to the stability of Russia’s political system and power elites.

Taking into account a certain decline in the image of the president of Russia in the eyes of Russian citizens, the preservation of Belarus under the wing of Russia strengthens the personal political position of the current president of Russia.

It is important that the countries of the EU, the US and their allies understand that only by opposing the regime of dictator Lukashenko will it be possible to counter Russia’s plans.

Constantly raising the question that the pressure on Lukashenko is forcing him to drift towards integration with Russia is, in fact, an admission that everyone is willing to act according to the Kremlin scenario: that is, not to increase the pressure on the regime.

But more importantly, only 3% of Belarusians are in favor of Belarus joining Russia (according to Andrei Vardomatsky’s research).

45% of Belarusians evaluate negatively the policies of the Russian leader, and 40% positively (data from VTsIOM).

There is no public consent for the integration scenario in Belarus. This is the main obstacle for Putin, not the illusion that Lukashenko is the guarantor of the independence of Belarus.

The history of mediation in Belarus

The first attempts at mediation were the European states and international organizations in the months after the rigged elections of 2020.

At the same time, Austria also strove to ensure a peaceful transition of power. A year ago, even despite enormous internal pressure, it was not possible to force Lukashenko to accept the terms.

Just when achieving this goal seemed as realistic as possible, several partners shifted to a position of waiting for the patient’s hospitalization rather than calling him an ambulance.

Lukashenko suspended internal pressure due to crimes against the Belarusian people, but did not stop their future inevitability.

Now, in November 2021, Lukashenko is not interested, and will not go, to real negotiations on the transition of power and the fulfillment of the demands of the people (the release of all political prisoners, the end of the repression and the beginning of criminal cases on crimes committed against the civilian population), all of which are the basic conditions for a possible discussion of the demand for early elections.

Taking these circumstances into account, as one of the co-authors of the Vienna conference idea, I see the need to put the priority objective first: to focus the capacities and efforts of European countries on the need to develop a unified foreign relations strategy. political and legal pressure on Lukashenko’s terrorist regime.

A non-standard situation requires non-standard tools

The atypical situation lies in the fact that this time, the regime illegally arrested and detained tens of thousands of Belarusians.

Human rights organizations have been liquidated, as have hundreds of other non-profit non-governmental organizations. Independent media activity has come to a complete halt.

Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians were forced to emigrate due to the repression. I don’t think there are many idealists who consider it possible for Lukashenko to reverse all of the above.

At the same time, the regime is waging a hybrid war against third countries: illegal migration has been established and torture is being used against citizens of foreign states.

What has the democratic world done under these conditions? A set of previously applied tools was used: non-recognition of electoral results and the imposition of sanctions.

Do I help you? Although the scope of the sanctions is more substantial than previously applied, they have not yet become a factor that stopped the regime, but instead created prerequisites for it.

The scale of Lukashenko’s crimes is growing and they have assumed an extraterritorial character.

Expectations overestimated by an underestimated desire

The mutual relations between the EU and the democratic forces of Belarus on the use of instruments of influence in the Lukashenko regime can be defined as follows: overestimated expectations, meeting an underestimated desire to seize the available opportunities.

It seems that the Vienna conference should focus on developing a strategy to solve the European regional crisis, the center of which is Belarus.

The lack of a sufficiently high level of political representation among the participants will indicate not only an underestimation of the importance of the Belarusians’ struggle for the future of Europe, but an underestimation of the threats already created to the stability and security in Europe of the East and Central. .

The philosophy that the problem will eventually be solved, or rather temporarily suspended, is utopian and dangerous.

The dictator is not capable and will never be capable of internal changes or dialogue, and he will not renounce his aggressive rhetoric and actions against universal values.

The dictator must receive a very clear signal: ‘there is no going back’, together with a set of political and economic instruments of unconventional influence, in the form of international non-recognition, loss of international legal personality and an international criminal evaluation. of their actions.

The time has come not only to label Lukashenko’s public actions illegal, but also to initiate prosecution for crimes against humanity and terrorist activities.

If there are dreamers in Europe who believe that it is possible to talk about the transition of power from Lukashenko, this is only possible under one condition: when Europe and the entire democratic world speak from the dominant position in relation to Lukashenko.

Today everything seems backwards. That is why the only subject that dictates the conditions now is the dictator.

Paying tribute to Austria and to Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, who takes great responsibility for the effectiveness of this conference, it seems important today to outline the purpose that the conference should serve, to which the objectives of the Belarusian democratic forces correspond. The goal of the democratic forces is internal mobilization in Belarusian society to meet the demands of the Belarusian people.

Pavel Latushka was Minister of Culture of the Republic of Belarus from 2009 to 2012 and is now a member of the Presidium of the Pro-Democratic Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power and head of the National Anti-Crisis Management movement..


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