MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Minsk talks signify Europe’s recognition of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and help the country’s goal of becoming Europe’s key partner in Eastern Europe, associate professor of political theory at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh told RIA Novosti Wednesday.
“As a matter of fact, Europe has stated that Lukashenko’s regime is quite European in nature, and [Europe’s] previous rhetoric about the dictatorship will be curtailed,” Koktysh said. “In comparison to the events on Maidan [Nezalezhnosti, Independence Square], the Lukashenko regime appears ‘vegetarian,’ and he himself as a normal democrat, considering that not a single person has died during the years of protests and demonstrations [in Belarus],” the expert added.
Between November 2013 and February 2014 Ukraine saw several waves of mass anti-government protests in Kiev’s Independence Square. The demonstrations led to the installation of a new government and have been accompanied by violent clashes between the law enforcers and protesters. According to official information by Ukraine’s Health Ministry, the clashes on Independence Square have killed 104 people. An organization of volunteer doctors estimates the death toll at around 780 people.
“The Eastern Partnership [an EU Initiative on cooperation with post-Soviet states] is more dead than alive. But a request for a structure that would involve Russia as an essential participant in the dialogue, at the same time integrating Eastern European nations, exists. And Minsk has in fact made a bid for becoming the regional center of Eastern Europe,” Koktysh explained.
“All in all, after the yesterday’s success, there could be no other center [of integration] than Minsk,” Koktysh concluded.
Andrei Suzdaltsev, deputy dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics, told a RIA Novosti correspondent that Lukashenko hopes to obtain “great dividends” from his mediation of the Ukrainian conflict.
The Belarusian leader actually backed February’s coup in Kiev and supported President Poroshenko when he was elected in May, Suzdaltsev said. Additionally, the president “renders a great service to the EU by providing European goods access to the Russian market,” the deputy dean added. Suzdaltsev also said Lukashenko is counting on “The United States and the European Union to recognize the upcoming presidential election [in Belarus], due to take place in 2015,” Suzdaltsev said.
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an association agreement with Europe in November 2013 led to mass protests and, subsequently, to February’s regime change in Kiev. The new authorities in Ukraine proclaimed a pro-European course, and President Poroshenko signed the agreement on June 27.