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10 May 2023, 16:00

What has Lukashenko repeatedly warned West and international community about

Aleksandr Lukashenko speaks at the plenary session of the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, September 2015
Aleksandr Lukashenko speaks at the plenary session of the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, September 2015

“Sustainable development of any country is impossible without peace and security.” Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said these words back in 2015. Speaking at the UN summit in New York, the head of state called on countries to dialogue. Then the president stressed that if the bloodshed and fratricidal massacre in Europe were not stopped and the conflict escalated, then the entire civilized world would be set on fire. What is we happening today? In this episode of BelTA' YouTube project “After the Fact' Lukashenko's Decisions” we will tell you why Belarus values peace everywhere, not only on its own land. What Belarus repeatedly urged the international community to do and what idea, despite its seemingly naivety, Aleksandr Lukashenko has not yet abandoned?

Belarus' calls for peace talks

Let's first go back a few years, to 2017. At the annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Aleksandr Lukashenko urged to strengthen confidence-building measures and cooperation in Europe. The head of state put forward the idea of a new large-scale international dialogue on security matters, along the line of Helsinki Accords.

2018. First, at a meeting with the Special Representative of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on Eastern Europe, and then at an international expert conference a couple of months later, the president again invited countries to sit down at the negotiating table and do at least something to reduce tensions in Europe. This thesis was also delivered at the Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting at the end of the year. In 2019 Aleksandr Lukashenko continued to call for negotiations. At the international conference on European security, he again voiced proposals for the gradual reduction of tensions and the settlement of conflicts. In just a few minutes, Russia and NATO, the president warned, could go from an unintended local conflict to a nuclear war.

“Belarus knows the price of peace better than anyone. We lost more than 3 million people during the Second World War. We survived the genocide. Today we value stability and peace in our land,” said Sergei Rachkov, the Chairman of the Standing Committee on International Affairs and National Security of the Council of the Republic.” Today we understand that security must be indivisible. Conditions of security cannot differ for various countries. The indivisibility of security is above all today.”

The MP recalled another important initiative of Belarus; to set up the so-called digital belt of good neighborliness. "This topic is still relevant. Today, many countries are subjected to information influence, even information aggression. Social networks are used, misinformation and fakes are being spread," the senator said. “We continue to work, on the one hand, to create a system that ensures the information security of Belarus. On the other hand, we understand that we need to work together with other countries and international organizations on this issue."

Lukashenko's trip to Yugoslavia in 1999

We are accustomed to believing that Belarus' peace initiatives came on the heels of the conflict that broke out in the south-east of Ukraine in 2014. This is not entirely true. Indeed, Belarus was ready to contribute to the resolution of that crisis and even take responsibility for maintaining peace in the eastern regions of Ukraine, ensuring control on the Russian-Ukrainian border and overseeing the elections in Donbass. But, apparently, this interfered with someone's plans.

“We do not want to find ourselves in a new civilizational crisis, a bloc confrontation between East and West. This is the main thing. Belarus, more than anyone else, knows what this may entail. As the confrontation grows, the chances that we become a buffer or a ‘bastion' between Russia and NATO increase too. Both experts and politicians predict this. This is bad,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting in Minsk in 2018. “If the power players came to an agreement not to drag Eastern Europe into various military and political blocs and not to demand loyalty at the expense of their sovereign interests, this region would become a cross-border belt of stability and cooperation.”

Let's dive deeper into the past. In 1999, Aleksandr Lukashenko visited Yugoslavia at a time when the country was under constant NATO bombing. Prior to his departure there, the president said that he was going to Belgrade with the hope to solve at least some of the problems and to help bring the Yugoslavia crisis to an end. But the unipolar world had other plans. With all of the ensuing consequences: the flourishing Yugoslavia eventually disappeared from the map of Europe.

The long-suffering Afghanistan became a hotbed of conflict and drug trafficking. The bloody slaughter in Iraq did not stop for years. In 2005, Aleksandr Lukashenko, standing at the UN rostrum, recalled all these facts and stressed that Belarus wanted little, just peace and stability. Simultaneously, in the next room, a presentation was being made of Iraq's capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction. That was how the U.S.-led coalition tried to justify its invasion of that country. Where are these weapons? There is still no answer to this question.

Short-term interests instead of common ground

Permanent Representative of Belarus to the UN Office in Geneva Larisa Belskaya stressed that the logic that guides Western partners today ignores the real balance of power and the interests of countries outside the North Atlantic Alliance. "It has actually led to the breakdown of mechanisms and agreements in the field of disarmament, to the destruction of trust," the diplomat stated.

"Unfortunately, in recent years, the spread of Western institutions has been considered by a number of countries as the only possible way to develop a security system. Belarus has different approaches, a different view. We talk about this in our peace initiatives, constantly and consistently. We do not agree that the more NATO and its military infrastructure in Europe are, including near the borders of Belarus, the greater the security will be. This is not true. All peace initiatives of Belarus are aimed at promoting dialogue between major players," Larisa Belskaya said.

Larisa Belskaya. File photo
Larisa Belskaya. File photo

An interesting fact. Last February the Conference on Disarmament established the subsidiary bodies for practically-oriented discussions on a number of critical security issues. One of the six bodies was headed by a representative of the Permanent Mission of Belarus in Geneva. Under his leadership the body came up with a document, i.e. a framework for future negotiations, although things are not so easy today. “Out of six such bodies, only two produced such documents. The rest could not even agree on any basis for negotiations,” Larisa Belskaya noted.

“The problem, unfortunately, is that in the current geopolitical situation, in the current crisis Western politicians are driven by their short-term interests and do not seek common ground with other countries,” she said.

'In the spirit of San Francisco'

Given the new circumstances, Belarus believes that the negotiation process similar to the Helsinki one is no longer enough today. Last year, Aleksandr Lukashenko had a message delivered to the UN secretary general. The head of state emphasized that the time had come for a truly global and decisive process with the involvement of all major international players in the spirit of San Francisco rather than Helsinki 2.

Helsinki... San Francisco... What do politicians mean when they mention these cities? In 1945, representatives of fifty countries gathered in San Francisco. Following long negotiations they agreed on the Charter of the United Nations. A few months later the new international organization became a reality. It was the result of four years of work and years of ambition. The UN was set to promote peace and justice and a better life for all humankind.

The conference in San Francisco brought together 850 delegates. With advisers, staff of delegations and the secretariat of the Conference, the total number of participants was 3,500. Add to this more than 2,500 representatives of the press, radio and newsreels, observers from various societies and organizations. It was truly a global event. Not only one of the most important in history, but probably the largest of all the international gatherings that have ever taken place.

The talks in Finland were also important for the international community, albeit they were not that large-scale. The Helsinki Accords were signed in 1975, following the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This made it possible to reduce the Cold War tensions. The Helsinki Decalogue, the so-called 10 Commandments, were not legally binding, but nevertheless they laid down political commitments and principles, among which the non-use of force and the inviolability of borders was the key elements of security in Europe.

‘I hate war. All Belarusians hate war.'

We began to sound the alarm, urging to stop the confrontation. Recently, we have been talking a lot about the need for dialogue, strengthening peace and searching for compromises. But the world, unfortunately, is not getting better. Trade wars and sanctions confrontation are gaining momentum. The struggle for energy and raw materials is intensifying. Numerous armed and frozen conflicts in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Europe are not being resolved. The system of military-political checks and balances is falling apart before our eyes, and international organizations cannot yet stop this process. Maybe they don't want to. Or maybe those who dominate these organizations are interested in it. Humanity is moving by leaps and bounds towards the line, beyond which there is an abyss," Aleksandr Lukashenko warned in 2019.

So why did Belarus start to sound the alarm, calling on the international community to stop the confrontation? It's simple: the history of our country is steeped in tragic events, and the phrase "come what may but a war", which the younger generation sometimes ridicules, still hasn't lost its relevance. You can see it for yourself. Therefore, Belarusians value peace very much. Everywhere, not only on their own land, but also on a regional, global scale.

"I hate war. All Belarusians hate war. We don't want war. We want peace talks. But you have Zelensky bound hand and foot and do not let him near the negotiating table. This is my conviction, and many facts prove it. This means you want war. We want peace! Do you, the United States, hear me? We want peace. Give the corresponding command to Zelensky and sit down at the negotiating table yourselves together with Putin, and I will sit next to you,' the president said during a press conference for foreign and Belarusian media early this year.

West's sanctions policy


Recent events suggest another idea. The West has long tested a new weapon and finally has realized that it is no less effective than artificial conflicts and destruction of states under ‘democracy' and ‘human rights' banners. The matter is about sanctions. Sanctions as a tool of punishment have recently become an obsession and necessity for the European Union.

Here is a recent example. On 2 May, the EU Official Journal published the documents providing a legal basis for the introduction of sanctions against people ‘taking part in the destabilization of the situation in the Republic of Moldova'. Hmmm... Indeed, attempts to overthrow the constitutional order, to provide support for riots and acts of violence should be punished in any country. But this is the job of authorities and law enforcement. There are laws for that. This has nothing to do with European sanctions based on some arbitrarily compiled lists.

Haven't the people, who tried to overthrow the constitutional order in Belarus in 2020, who participated in riots and called on their supporters to open violence against law enforcement officers, found refuge in the European Union? For some reason, it was not them, hiding from justice in Vilnius, Warsaw and other cities, who the EU has sanctioned. It was representatives of the state and Belarus as a country and all its people who became the object of European sanctions.

Larisa Belskaya noted that sanctions are primarily a mechanism that Western states use to promote certain rules of the game in international politics, the so-called rules-based order.

"After the adoption of the UN Charter, many international treaties, conventions, agreements, resolutions of the General Assembly, the humankind has formed a set of rules of conduct that make up international law. Today our Western partners say that there are certain rules of conduct that are not norms of international law, but supposedly should be legally binding on all states. Whoever acts contrary to the will of the West is instantly declared a violator of human rights and the West declares its right to punish the violator. How? By imposing sanctions," the diplomat said.

Resources as a carrot

Why are sanctions a weapon? Just take a look. The international community is concerned about hunger and poverty in the world. How can they be eliminated when all resources are spent on military confrontation, while bans undermine global food security? Sanctions have the power to kill.

Another interesting fact. This year, on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, an event was held in honor of the 35th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development. Its basic principles, such as self-determination, economic and social progress, a higher standard of living, engagement, inclusion, equality and non-discrimination, are enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations

The paradox is that Western countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and others do not recognize the right to development and vote against the resolutions on the right to development that call to give countries the opportunity to develop, to help them develop and give them access to resources, technologies and so on, Larisa Belskaya said. “Unfortunately, this problem is long-standing in the UN and it has not yet been solved. This hypocrisy and duplicity show that major powers do not want to share either technology or resources. They simply seek to manipulate developing states in their own interests and dangle resources like a carrot in front of them.”

In general, wherever you look, you get the feeling that the world leaders are not interested in peace. The Belarusian authorities still urge the parties to various conflicts and the geopolitical players to peaceful negotiations. Is a large-scale negotiation process just a utopia? Or should it take a global catastrophe that will claim millions of lives before they finally start listening to Belarus? We do not have an answer to these questions. Please, remember the president's words: “Sustainable development is impossible without peace and security”.

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