Meeting to discuss operation of political parties in Belarus
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko convened a government conference to discuss the operation of political parties in the country on 9 April.
Partaking in the meeting are high-ranking MPs, senior officials of the Belarus President Administration, the state secretary of the Security Council, the justice minister.
Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that a decision to amend the law “On political parties” – the legal foundation for the party building processes in the country – was made at the 6th Belarusian People’s Congress.
“Like the majority of people attending this meeting, I belong to the generation brought up by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union which used to be the pillar of our society. Therefore, many people viewed the collapse of the USSR and the ban of the Communist Party in many former Soviet republics as a betrayal,” the President said. “Because of those shocks in the early days of our independence and construction of the Belarusian statehood we realized that it was inadmissible to zig and zag. I have invented a formula for myself and I have been committed to it so far: we are not with the left, not with the right, we are with people. My position concerning the political party construction remained unchanged: we should not either boost social and political processes artificially or restrain them. They should ripen themselves, from the bottom. We do not need any artificial ruling parties.”
The head of state remarked that somebody would, probably, criticize the state for not stimulating the development of political parties. “But there was no demand for it in the society. And there is no big demand right now. As various social polls show, the level of trust to existing parties is within the statistical spread. I am saying this responsibly, and the recent large-scale social polls showed it. The political question is bothering the minds of only a small part of the politicized community in big cities. We see it and must take it into consideration,” the Belarusian leader said.
At the same time, Aleksandr Lukashenko added that the work of dialogue platforms showed that Belarusians are prepared to take a more active part in the resolution of various issues. “And not only at the local level, although people are mostly concerned about the things going on at home and around them. We feel this demand. Now we need to work out a mechanism of integrating various social groups in the constructive dialogue and to determine the framework of political processes,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the any steps in this direction should be taken cautiously. “One must realize that the Belarusian society has little experience of existence in the multiparty system,” he said.
“Social trust and the authority of political parties cannot emerge from noting. This is a long process which has been developing in western countries for centuries,” the Belarusian leader noted. “Therefore, we agreed that in this and other aspects of state construction we will choose the evolutionary way taking into account our specifics and national interests.”
According to the head of state, there are no ready-made recipes here. “Look at the stronghold of western democracy – the party system. We see how party ideologies are replaced by cheap populism and dirty political technologies. Political parties often use shady methods, violating all norms and principles, in political fight to reach their vested interests. Certain groups. We can see it not only in the West, but also in post-Soviet republics which have chosen the same way. And the interests of these oligarchs (luckily, we do not have them in Belarus) often do not prioritize the wellbeing of the country. Instead, they are trying to manipulate public opinion,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
In his words, it is essential to step up efforts to prevent such speculations on the party basis from artificially dividing the Belarusian society and leading to the loss of statehood. “The political party building process should not, as it happened in some neighboring countries, lead to the emergence of pocket parties of several oligarchs promoting their own interests. This should not happen in Belarus. And I hope that it will never happen,” the President stressed.
Therefore, Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that apart from ensuring political representation the party building process should, first of all, prioritize security of every person, the society and the state.
According to the President, responsibility is the key aspect of the party building process. “It should be like that at all levels: a political party should be accountable to its members, the society and the state. Its members should take care of their party, the interests of people and the country.”
“As President, I would like to see a personnel pool in political parties, if possible, within the multiparty system. New people who are able to take responsibility for the country, people with proactive thinking prioritizing the state interests should come from there. And the main things, regardless of any differences in opinions regarding the ways of development of the country, are the sovereignty of Belarus, the protection of people’s interests. These should be the absolute priorities for any political forces,” the head of state emphasized.
In his words, only such political activity can count on support from the state.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also spoke about financing. “Just like in all developed democracies, such political activities in Belarus should not be financed from abroad. Some today’s party leaders think that the state will finance them from the budget. This should not happen either. We will inject budget resources in other areas. If people find that we sponsor political parties from the budget, you know what they will think about it. As for the foreign financing, it is specified in the current legislation. I want to remind you once again,” he said. “Every person counting on the support from abroad, on their money for ‘the social elevator’ and wealthy life should realize once and for all: if you take a grant from a foreign fund, if you agree to be paid for trips and other services, you immediately lose the de jure and de factor right to be engaged in politics, to vie for any government posts and elected positions in Belarus. We need to emphasize it even more, such political parties will cease to exist.”
The President remarked that the law regulating the operation of political parties should be focused on the resolution of all pending issues and issues which can emerge in the future. “We have determined a clear algorithm at the Belarusian People’s Congress: we pass a law on parties, then we re-register all political parties by the end of the year at the latest on the basis of this law,” he said.
At the government conference Aleksandr Lukashenko also asked what else should be done to promote the development of the state and the society.