MINSK, 21 July (BelTA) – In an interview with the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned why he had agreed to this talk, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko explained: “Why did I agree to the interview? When I learned that you are an independent person and your company is independent. That you can express an independent point of view as much as it is possible in this world.”
In particular, Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned AFP's report about the situation in Lisichansk. The agency drew criticism in the West for it because the information was allegedly not interpreted in favor of the Ukrainian side. “I cannot say you are totally objective but you are close to the truth,” he stated. “You showed the truth and not exactly in the manner the news was supposed to be reported in the West. But you were heavily criticized.”
The president stressed he supports this kind of independence and objectivity in mass media: “I am in favor of such mass media. I am in favor of not violating these fundamental principles. But the key principle is never make things worse for your own country, never fight against your own country and your own nation. You cannot switch the country and you cannot change the nation. You have to match the nation, its spirit and traditions. I am in favor of it.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that Agence France-Presse has never made anti-state statements unlike some Belarusian so-called free mass media. “As far as I know you are freedom-loving people. The authorities may not like you in some aspects but you stick to your policy. After inquiring about your work, I didn't notice an anti-state stance in it. I didn't notice that you oppose France or even the European Union. You've always occupied your own niche, have looked at the world with your own eyes, and have been more or less objective,” he said. “Our ‘opposition' and mass media, which were financed only by foreign sources, presented nothing of this kind, including so-called free mass media.”
“But I categorically disagree with the Western evaluation of our domestic political situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “It is demonstrably designed to meet interests of the West. For instance, if you don't like Lukashenko, then you can criticize him any way you want.”