Interview with representatives of the Georgian TV stations

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko talked about his role in Belarus and about the country’s brand as he spoke with representatives of the Georgian TV stations.

When asked about the strong presidential power in Belarus and the influence of the head of state on many processes in the country, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that his role is somewhat hyperbolized. “Indeed, we have a strong presidential power, which saved the country from destruction. I do not want to be too modest. I ask you not to consider this as indiscretion, either. Of course, Lukashenko's role as the head of state is significant in Belarus. However, there is also a well-developed management system in our sovereign independent state,” the President said.

The head of state added that life is changing and everything should be improved. “I have recently said that the time will come to amend the Constitution and maybe change some norms. Some functions of the President will be transferred to the executive authorities, the government, and the parliament. It should not happen as a result of some street protest campaign which will prompt the authorities for action. We will start working on our Constitution today so as to be ready for the future,” the head of state said.

“You know, in Belarus there are many smart strong politicians who, though not on their own but as part of the team, can resolve issues,” the Belarusian leader underlined

According to him, the main thing is not even the power of the President but the ability of people to build and move toward the reforms. “To move in certain direction. Our people have it. Over these years our people got inoculated, acquired certain immunity against shocks and revolutions. Our people will never agree to these,” the head of state believes.

“So when you and others build relations with us, you do not have to worry for stability. It is important to us. This is our brand. And we are not going to blow it away,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President expressed hope forthe positive development of the Belarusian-Russian relations during the new term of President Vladimir Putin.

“I always hope for positive things. I talked to President Putin immediately after the election. Naturally we raised some pressing issues which must be resolved. Probably they were not the issues to be addressed at the level of the presidents, but still we touched upon them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

With regard to the overall context of the relations with Russia, the Belarus President said he had no doubts about their good prospects. “I have good relations with President Vladimir Putin. There have never been a case when we failed to resolve issues in our relations. We have always found a solution. Unfortunately, issues accumulate at ministerial and governmental level from time to time. Then, we have to get involved, which should not happen, of course. We often talk about it at our joint Belarusian-Russian events. Ministers and governments need to resolve issues by themselves and do not bring them to the highest level. But that is life, and we cannot walk away from it,” the head of state said.

He added that the issues in the Belarusian-Russian relations are mainly related to competition, development of the market economy. The two states have no problems in the sphere of politics.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “As for your relations — I’ve talked to the President and the prime minister about Georgia-Russia relations — I am convinced that if there is a will on the part of the Georgian leadership, Vladimir Putin will get down to resolving the problem. He understands very well that it is not a problem between the nations. It is a problem, which needs to be resolved by the governments. I am convinced that if you show more persistence and openness with each other in this dialogue, the problem will be resolved.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also mentioned that the Russian President is intent on resolving problems in relations with a number of countries. “I should say that I’ve noticed that President Putin, my colleague and friend, seems to have acquired a second wind. I am convinced that he is resolute to resolve problems in Russian relations not only with Belarus but, let’s say, Georgia,” said the head of state.

“You see, he is ready and is going to resolve them let alone Belarus. I cannot say we have painful problems. The issues we run into include competition, market economy, and economic problems. As for politics, we have no major problems in that regard,” added Aleksandr Lukashenko.

The President also has a lot of proposals and problems he would like to discuss with the European Union.

Asked why he did not attend the Eastern Partnership Initiative summit in Brussels in late 2017, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Such trips are usually planned in advance. Our minister of foreign affairs was getting ready to go there. Why shouldn’t I trust my minister? So he went to the summit. Moreover, he was ready for the problems on the summit’s agenda. I think that time will come when I visit the summit, too.”

The head of state explained that it would depend on what problems the summit would focus on and what tangible results could be produced. “I now have a lot of proposals and problems that we should discuss with the European Union. Those are their problems, our problems, Russian problems, and even probably Georgian problems. I have my own perspective on things. I will reveal it when time comes. I have something to say,” said the Belarusian leader.

The President was also asked about his demands of the European Union. “You know, I have absolutely nothing to demand from them. I just want Belarus to be respected. I want them to know there is such a country in the center of Europe. The European Union needs to understand the value Belarus offers now. The European Union has a problem with Ukraine at present. Not only Russia has a problem but the European Union does, too. There are problems to the north of Belarus where there are virtually no roads. And Belarus represents virtually 1,000km of a trouble-free corridor for the European Union on one side and Russia and China on the other side. For Georgia, too,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“We would like the European Union to see it and appreciate it. Let’s say, we don’t want unilateral economic measures or our products getting blocked by the European Union. If we have to deal with import duties, that’s bearable. Although there is some movement in this regard already. Regarding textiles and so on,” noted the head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added that Belarus does not need lessons in democracy. “We know how to read textbooks. We see the democratic country of Georgia and democratic Europe. We see everything. We see positive things and shortcomings. But Belarus has peculiarities of its own. The European Union has to understand that there is no need to push us from behind. It is not a demand. It is my wish. That’s what I am telling Europeans,” said the Belarusian leader.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also noted that forcing Belarus to choose who to cooperate with and develop relations with is also unacceptable. “We don’t even want to talk about it. We are an independent nation with a foreign policy of our own. Multiple vectors are at the heart of our foreign policy. Avoiding making problems for our neighbors is part of the policy, too,” stressed the President.