President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko met with Secretary of State of the Union State Grigory Rapota on September 20. During the meeting, Lukashenko blamed Russia for reducing the Russian oil supplies and restricting the import of Belarusian food products to Russia, which he called an “undisguised pressure” on Belarus. Belarusian political analyst Arthur Grigoryev has commented on the Belarusian leader’s statement to EADaily’s correspondent.
Lukashenko’s decision to “optimize” the involvement of Belarus in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has two aspects. The first one is blatant blackmail of the Kremlin. The Eurasian Union is associated with Vladimir Putin, as it is considered his project. The second one is that Lukashenko does not want to pay for gas, as he cannot resort to more austerities. This is possible in practice, but may have political consequences. Belarus is experiencing a crisis, and the salaries are half as high as in 2010. The country lacks own technologies, investments, amid growing hidden unemployment and artificially prevented tsunami of bankruptcies. In this light, Lukashenko raised the utility prices, “optimized,” or more precisely, cut the number civil servants, and resorted to other unpopular measures. However, this does not guarantee the “Belarusian miracle” from the Latin American scenario.
“Optimization” of the EAEU is an alarm to those holding sinecure positions in the Eurasian Union that it is time to lobby the interests of Lukashenko. This decision may be explained with the notorious poverty, though the country has money, but for other people and goals.
As for the pressure by Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian agricultural watchdog, they are making allegations running contrary to facts. The watchdog publishes reports on detention of illegal and low quality products from Belarus nearly every day. Meantime, Belarus does not mention the contraband from the EU as a measure to press Russia, the export of sausages from plague-stricken pork, the proven facts of violation of the food production technologies and transportation rules.
Talking to Rapota on September 20, Lukashenko said the Belarusian products are demanded in the EU as high quality production. That’s great, let the Belarusian meat and dairy products gain the markets of Poland, Lithuania, France, and Germany. “Soyuzmoloko,” the national milk producer along with farmers of the Leningrad and other regions will support it. Lukashenko has decided to diversify exports reducing the supplies to Russia by about one-third. It is necessary to help the strategic partner to become a sovereign and independence state. They have already used the Venezuelan oil. It is time to test the Qatar gas. When they demand Russia to respect the sovereignty and independence, voice ‘their interests,’ it means it is time to cancel all the privileges and start trading in the normal market regime, which does not rule out friendship, fraternity, cooperation and others.