Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko granted an interview to Turkey’s largest news agency Anadolu on 8 April.
Aleksandr Lukashenko was asked about ten questions. The interviewer asked the President about his views on growing tensions in the region and the world and the resulting peculiarities of Belarus’ foreign policy, the country’s contribution to efforts to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. The head of state talked about Belarus’ approaches to international relations and spoke his mind about the presidential election in Ukraine.
Belarusian-Turkish relations were mentioned. Aleksandr Lukashenko revealed some details of his forthcoming visit to Turkey, evaluated prospects of bilateral cooperation, and spoke about personal relations with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The President said that Belarus is pursuing a balanced foreign policy and absolutely opposes provocation and escalation of local conflicts around the world.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that conflicts arise in all parts of the world: “Today tensions are high close to the Belarusian border – in Ukraine. You know what is happening in Venezuela (God forbid it will erupt into some international conflict or clashes). You see what is happening in Libya and this is just the beginning. Being a Turkish citizen you see and feel what is going on close to you – in Syria, Iraq; the Kurdish problem is also high on your agenda.”
The President is convinced that if such conflicts occur, it means that someone needs them. “My assumption is proved by the fact that these conflicts arise in the countries that are rich in natural resources and that have a strategic geopolitical location on the world map. It means that someone needs these resources, someone wants to get leverage to influence the countries that have this geographically and strategically important location,” the President said.
“Do we, Belarusians, need it? No! Our state needs minerals, natural resources, but we are not a global player and do not have that kind of imperial mindset that would push us to force other states to act the way we want and to get these resources,” the head of state noted.
The Belarusian leader believes that ‘the global players are the fomenters’. “You know who I mean. Some of them act aggressively; others talk a lot (but their violent rhetoric helps foment tensions). There are also countries that try to have an impact on a situation without saying a word. However, each of these powers has certain objectives. First of all, it is all about the divide and rule policy,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Belarus, just like Turkey, is not interested in conflicts, in particular taking into account the developments in Syria. “Therefore, Turkey, to say nothing of Belarus, does not need such local or bigger conflicts. There is no way we can benefit from it,” the President underlined.
He recalled that Belarus has often been a battleground throughout its history. The losses were huge, millions of people died. “We have a different mindset. We do not need such conflicts taking into consideration practical, moral and genetic reasons. We are pursuing a balanced and multi-vector policy. We want peace in the west and east. We can benefit from it despite our complicated geographic location in the world. Therefore, we have a principled position on it. Today this flame is burning several kilometers from you, tomorrow it can cross the border and reach your territory,” the head of state added.
The situation in Ukraine and possible results of the presidential election were mentioned among other things. Belarus’ stance on the conflict in Ukraine was also discussed during the interview.
The parties could not but talk about the presidential election in Ukraine. During the Big Conversation with the President on 1 March Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the current Ukrainian head of state Petro Poroshenko would win the election. After results of the first round of the presidential election many people, including reporters, wondered whether Aleksandr Lukashenko still maintained the same view.
The Belarusian leader stated: “Nobody won anything over there. Zelensky is in the lead after the first round. Poroshenko is behind him. Nobody can dare predict results of the second round. I am inclined to believe after all that Poroshenko will win this presidential election.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted he was not going to analyze and compare the two candidates. “I know one of them very well. I’ve seen the second one only in movies. I don’t know him as a politician. But Petro Poroshenko and I had a friend in common once – Mikheil Saakashvili. When Saakashvili was the president [of Georgia] and was organizing an election, he amended the constitution and did something else, they started messing with the nation. In the end he had to flee Georgia and hide in other countries. If Poroshenko doesn’t want to climb to the roof and from rooftops call upon Ukrainians to protect him, he will do everything for Ukrainians to support him. He has to do everything for the nation to support him,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
A popular opinion in Ukraine says that there are no worthy candidates and many citizens vote for Volodymyr Zelensky as a form of protest. Aleksandr Lukashenko offered his view on what people should do in this situation. “I beg Ukrainians’ forgiveness but I would like to tell them: if there are no worthy candidates, then you shouldn’t vote. Why do you have to vote for a man you are not confident in? Ukrainians had to endure such a bumpy ride in politics in the last few years. They are already fed up with incomprehensible promises. They’ve taken risks to put their trust in politicians and support them many times. But things took the wrong turn every time. The experience of the Ukrainian nation in the last few years indicates that one cannot take risks. If it seems there are no worthy candidates, then a repeat election is the way to go. It seems to me it is a better option than risking one more time and casting their votes only to feel remorse for ten or more years afterwards,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.