Updated at 13:53,16-05-2022

Polish foreign minister warns against boycotting Lukashenka

The European Union must not boycott Alyaksandr Lukashenka and must encourage the Belarusian leader to take steps toward democratization, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview with BelaPAN.

At the same time, he warned, the EU must "punish" Mr. Lukashenka if his policies run counter to European values.

According to Mr. Sikorski, the EU must continue the policy of setting conditions in relations with Minsk. If Mr. Lukashenka makes steps toward liberalization, the 27-nation bloc must engage in a dialogue with him, but his regime must face sanctions if his political opponents are sent to prison, he noted.

Mr. Sikorski said that the situation in Belarus was controlled by Mr. Lukashenka and his entourage, while the EU would like the situation to be controlled by the Belarusian people.

He warned that the recent overthrows of repressive regimes in North African countries sent a signal to Mr. Lukashenka.

When asked as to whether Mr. Lukashenka could introduce democratic reforms, Mr. Sikorski stressed that the Belarusian leader still had the time to take the same route that Polish last Communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski took by allowing a free and democratic election to take place in the late 1980s.

Mr. Sikorski dismissed as nonsense Mr. Lukashenka's recent claims that Warsaw dreams of shifting Poland’s border eastward to where it was before 1939. He said that the Polish foreign would summon the Belarusian ambassador to express protest over the controversial remarks by Mr. Lukashenka.

Speaking on October 9, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed that the EU was ready to offer Belarus $9 billion or even more in aid in exchange for the release of political prisoners and a free and fair parliamentary election.

While meeting with a group of Russian reporters on October 7, Mr. Lukashenka expressed skepticism over the offer. "That was just a hoax intended to make it clear to the Belarusians that if they stopped bowing to Lukashenka and keeping him, and threw him out, they would be given nine billion right away," he said.

"No one will give anything to anyone for nothing," Mr. Lukashenka said. "The Americans won’t print this nine billion dollars for us. Even if they give anything to anyone for some purpose, they will later take 12 billion and maybe more, not nine billion. Believe me. I’ve seen such charlatans, who promised but gave no billions when it came to the scratch."