Poland urges Lukashenko to give up power

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko (RIA Novosti / STF)
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has called on Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko to begin talks on a peaceful handover of power.

In an interview with the British newspaper the Financial Times, Poland’s top diplomat also advised Lukashenko not to hold onto his seat like some North African leaders have done.

According to the minister, the poor state of the economy and the political isolation of the former Soviet republic are the result of “Lukanomics” in the economic and political spheres” of the state.

“So I believe that the topic for discussion with regards to Mr Lukashenko should be Belarus’s transition to democracy and his own orderly departure from power,” Sikorski told FT.

The Polish diplomat also noted that it would favorable for Lukashenko “not to learn from” Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak or the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. While the first one was ousted following the Egyptian revolution in February this year, Colonel Gaddafi is still not ready to abandon his grip on power, despite months of violent uprising between his regime and the opposition, NATO bombings, and numerous civilian causalities.

Sikorski suggested that Lukashenko should rather follow the example of Poland’s last Communist leader – Wojciech Jaruzelski. He resigned after an agreement to hold democratic elections in Poland was reached in 1989.

Despite Lukashenko’s violent crackdown on the opposition after the December 2010 election which secured him a fourth term in office, the European Union did not kick Belarus out of the “Eastern Partnership” project.The initiative launched in 2009 was aimed at developing close economic and political ties with six former Soviet republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – in exchange for democratic reforms.

According to Sikorski, the decision to keep Belarus in the project was right, since “arrangements and advantages of the Eastern Partnership would benefit the Belarusian people”.

In January, the EU reinstated a visa ban on President Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials as a response against the government’s suppression of opposition activists.