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11 Aug, 2023 23:52

Lukashenko calls for radical change in Belarus’ relations with EU

Minsk wants a better relationship with its neighbor Poland, and with the West, the country’s leader has announced
Lukashenko calls for radical change in Belarus’ relations with EU

Belarus is ready to mend ties with its Western neighbors, President Alexander Lukashenko has said, indicating he is ready to hold talks with anyone, but especially with Poland.

The president made the remarks whike speaking to reporters at Minsk airport on Friday. He admitted that the country had been “living at the expenses of the East” lately, actively cooperating with Russia and China.

“But we must not forget about the high-tech West. They are nearby, they are our neighbors – the European Union. And we cannot lose relations with them. We are ready for this, but taking our own interests into account,” Lukashenko stated.

In particular, the country is ready to have friendlier relations with its immediate neighbor – Poland, the president said. While Warsaw has been “aggravating” the situation in the region lately, it has been doing so on the US’ behalf, Lukashenko suggested, adding that the Poles were not “stupid,” but actually “our people, the Slavs.”

“I instructed the PM to contact them. If they want, let’s talk, fix relations. We are neighbors, one does not choose neighbors, they are from God,” Lukashenko declared, admitting, however, that a thaw in tensions with Poland was unlikely to happen before the country’s parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for October 15. “Of course, it is necessary for them to escalate now, heat up the situation in order to show that they properly armed and re-armed the country,” he said.

Belarus’ relationship with the West has been complicated for decades now, rapidly deteriorating in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election in the country. The polls, marred by widespread mass protests, were contested by an opposition that had received open support from the EU, with Poland becoming one of its most active backers.

Relations with the neighboring country have deteriorated even further amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with Poland rapidly militarizing itself. As of late, Warsaw has repeatedly voiced concerns over the Russian defense contractor Wagner Group, which ended up relocating to Belarus in the aftermath of its botched insurrection in late June.

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki claimed that the alleged activities of the PMC near the border were “undoubtedly a step towards an upcoming hybrid attack on Polish territory,” while Lukashenko dismissed such allegations, insisting Warsaw had “gone mad” with all the rumors around Wagner.