MINSK, 11 January (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is holding a meeting with President of the International Ice Hockey Federation Rene Fasel in the Palace of Independence, BelTA has learned.
The meeting began with a discussion of the most pressing topic - the pandemic response. As is known, both Aleksandr Lukashenko and Rene Fasel had coronavirus.
"You and I had coronavirus so we can greet each other any way we want," the head of state said as he welcomed the head of the International Ice Hockey Federation. “We have recovered and things will be easier for us in the future. I believe that the best vaccine against coronavirus is the disease itself as a person develops immunity afterwards."
"I want to assure you as the IIHF president and as a friend of Belarus that there will be no issues on any front in Belarus: neither coronavirus, nor in terms of political security or physical security of people who live here and people who will come as guests," Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “Protesters and other dissatisfied people do not storm government offices and capitols here. We have a perfectly normal situation in terms of democratic processes. This is the main reason why some politicians in Europe are discontent with Belarus. They want to accuse me of defending my country and people, but this is why the people elected me. I have an obligation to ensure public, internal and external security of people and the state. Maybe some in the West do not like my actions in this regard, but this is up to them."
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus is ready to hold the championship at any time. All sports and tourism infrastructure was prepared for this a long time ago.
“Answering the main question about my attitude to all the recent developments around the IIHF World Championship in Belarus, I will tell you frankly: I will be OK with any development of the situation. If the International Ice Hockey Federation succeeds in fending off unfair pressure, then we will host the championship. If Latvia refuses to co-host, then Belarus will hold the IIHF World Championship on its own and it will be the best world championship in history. I think you know this for sure. If the International Ice Hockey Federation cannot cope with the pressure of some political circles from individual countries, there will be no World Championship in Belarus. Everything depends on you today,” the president said.
“I agree with your recent statements: sport should unite nations, not divide them, and sports and politics should not mix, as much as it is possible. We will act in this vein,” the Belarusian leader said.
For his part, Rene Fasel said: “We are very happy to be here today and to have an opportunity to discuss the situation. The situation is a little bit different from the one we had in 2014. You remember that in 2014 there was pressure as well but we came here and held a great championship together. The situation has changed a bit. When Belarus has faced problems, we have come under a lot of pressure. We have a clear position, though: as you said, we do not want to mix sport and politics. Sport should unite nations not divide them.”