Member of JEF Madrid
A crowd led by the opposition candidate is blocked by security forces and KGB cars when marching to Independence Square. As the demonstrators attempt to shove the vehicles aside, police and members of the KGB start beating the crowd with batons. Are you thinking about the USSR?
Actually, this happened a year ago in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, after Aleksander Lukashenko, the last remaining European dictator, won the elections. This “Tsar of Belarus” rules over a country known as the last Soviet-style dictatorship in Europe. A country that depends on European and Russian aid but uses this aid to destroy the opposition and create the illusion of a new USSR led by someone who always talks about the importance of protecting the people, but acts more like something similar to George Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984 rather than as an elected president.
Before the last elections, European western countries thought it could be a great opportunity for Lukashenko to come closer to democracy. At that time, as the German newspaper Der Spiegel commented, “Europe was popular in Minsk and high-level European diplomats could count on a warm reception in the Belarusian capital. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made a courtesy call on the country’s autocratic president, Alexander Lukashenko, while Guido Westerwelle was the first German foreign minister in 15 years to visit the country”.
Nevertheless these times are gone and now, after declaring himself the winner of the last elections, Lukashenko has decided to make up all sorts of enemies (allies?) that allow him to become the beloved leader.
As a result of the riots started by the opposition, he has launched a campaign to reinforce his image and perpetuate his power. This is an internal and external campaign, part of which consists of defending himself from an invented axis formed by Warsaw and Berlin in order to attack Belarus. At the same time, Lukashenko also negotiates with other European states like Slovenia and Latvia, which are now building two luxury hotels in Minsk.
Today, Belarus’ foreign policy is based on dividing and opposing Europeans countries against one another. This policy explains decisions such as threatening Europe energy security and statements like those against Guido Wasterwelle, in which Lukashenko said it is “better to be a dictator than gay”. At least he is not trying to mislead anyone about his ideas.
After the fall of the USSR, a wave of democracy crossed Eastern Europe and the democratization and modernization of these countries opposed to the old dictatorial model became a very important objective for the former EEC countries. I do not believe our ancestors would be pleased if we allowed the existence of an authoritarian state in our continent.
Nevertheless, we are all witnessing and allowing a man to create an undemocratic regime in Europe, close to us and where it can become a serious threat to all of the Union. Can we imagine a nuclear Belarus? Or Belarusian support of the undemocratic Putin’s Russia in a fight for the energy in Europe?
The European Union cannot continue to be a passive actor in the world with three or four different voices. Countries like Latvia or Slovenia should not be a part of Lukashenko’s game, putting quick money before principles. It is time to create a new and global wave of democracy to tell Lukashenko that his time has passed and to remind Putin that the USSR period ended in 1991.
I talk about Russia because we should not forget that Alexander Lukashenko is always being looked after by Putin, a man who is destroying democracy in his own country in the same way that Lukashenko has already done in Belarus. If we say no to Lukasehnko we will also be sending a message to Putin. A message that states clearly that we, the people, are going to fight for our liberty.