The fact that the Belorussian leadership is concerned over the troubled situation in the international arena have long been no surprise. Alexander Lukashenko has numerously said he didn’t intend to be a peacemaker, but if necessary, he will become one with no self-interest, if only there was no war in the world. However, the Belorussian leader’s latest statement during his meeting with a delegation of the Political and Security Committee of EU Council was so far-reaching, that at some point it came as a surprise to many observers.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, he is not just concerned about "the growing antagonism between the EU and Russia", but is also ready to make Minsk a "platform for the settlement of relations between the East and the West": “Some time ago the Helsinki process was needed to de-escalate the relations between the West and the East; the OSCE was created as a result. To improve the atmosphere of relations between the states, we can think about renewal of the Helsinki process and launch the peacekeeping process, possibly, the “Minsk process”. Moreover, according to the Belorussian president, because their country is the only of six member-states of the Eastern Partnership, where there are no military or frozen conflicts, it is where "agreements between the leaders of the major powers of the future world order" could be worked out.
In the past, such statements could only cause laughter, as no one saw either Belarus or Lukashenko as a party in such global processes. But now things have changed, and the Belorussian president’s words will at least be heard in Brussels and Moscow. This does not mean that the Europeans will agree to participate in the negotiation process with Russia on "the Minsk platform", but it does not matter for Alexander Lukashenko. The Belorussian leader, of course, enjoys feeling himself in the center of global developments, knowing that the country’s international status has sharply risen due to the Ukrainian crisis, it hasn’t still returned to the level of the beginning of the century, and the phrase "Europe's last dictator" has been forgotten in the EU. But in fact, the ultimate goals of the current Belorussian leader’s steps are much more pragmatic.
If we follow the recent trend, a clear picture emerges: Belarus, under the guidance of its president, is still looking for any short-term economic benefits, covering all that behind the words "multi-vector foreign policy ". Suffice it to recall Alexander Lukashenko’s statement that his country is, on the one hand, an outpost in the way of illegal migration and drugs into the European Union, and on the other, protects the borders of the Union of Belarus and Russia from attacks from outside. Moreover, recently the Belorussian leader, heading the CSTO, even threatened to teach the West a lesson, trying to make it reckon with the organization. And today, in front of the western ambassadors, Lukashenko said that "no one is interested in another Cold War", and "it is necessary to start the process of reflecting on the new rules of international relations based on the multi-polar world order and the respect for the interests of each other.” The interesting thing is that this ambiguity of the Belorussian leader's thinking is no surprise for anyone, as there is always subtext in his words.
What does the Belorussian leader really want from the West, inter alia? The president himself gave the answer to this question at the same meeting with the delegation of the European Union: "The EU may tangibly contribute to strengthening Belarus' economic independence through removing restrictions in trade, providing real access to the EU market for Belorussian goods, assisting the country in the development of its relations with the IMF, enhancing Belarus' position in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) credit ratings, and intensifying talks on Belarus' accession to the WTO.” Simply put, the country needs money and other financial and economic assistance from the West, from Russia, too, by the way. But Moscow doesn’t already respond to the numerous empty promises and words of brotherly love. Moreover, most likely, it has stopped responding to blackmail and attempts, both direct and indirect, either, which, by the way, hasn’t still been understood in the Belorussian capital. It’s difficult to explain otherwise, why during a regular press conference, the president told the regional Russian media once again that his country "has to try hard to seal the 1,200-km border with Ukraine, because huge amounts of arms and explosives have been coming in." It does not matter that neither the Ukrainian border guards, nor the Belorussians themselves could confirm this information. The important thing is that the president himself believes it. According to him, “arms were earlier smuggled from the West to the East through the Baltic states, Belarus and Ukraine, but now the smuggled arms flow through Belarus, which” (please, pay attention!) "requires huge efforts and spending to ensure security here." That is, for the umpteenth time Lukashenko hinted Moscow without any subtleties that he needed money. This becomes even more obvious if we recall that the Belorussian leader, beginning his current show with a press conference to Russian journalists, ends his meeting with Vladimir Putin, to whom, in fact it was addressed.
Thus, it becomes clear that the Belorussian president's big words, addressed both to the west and the east, were carrying a main message - to remind everyone that the current "neutral" position of Belarus is not eternal and that they have to pay for it. Moreover, Minsk does not want to provide any guarantee to any of the parties for its loyalty in the future, because "the multi-vector" policy is a "thing in itself" in Belorussian. Moreover, it has been long known that in fact no one in Minsk will be sad if the situation in the international arena remains tense, because otherwise all the bonuses the Belorussian authorities received over the past two years will instantly evaporate, and they will have to deal with their own internal problems.
Ultimately, it should be noted that Alexander Lukashenko, of course, would have been happy if he had been summoned to the club of countries that decide the world’s fate. However, the Belorussian leader is still quite a rational politician and understands that it is absolutely impossible. Therefore, his current statements should not mislead anyone. A new world order to be established on the basis of "the Minsk platform" is out of question today. It's only a screen with a call for help behind it. Will the new Western partners of Belarus respond to it? This question is quite controversial, as Minsk is still unable to state what it can offer to Brussels in return. No serious EU - Belarus economic cooperation will be without political gain. So, all that Alexander Lukashenko told the Europeans on November 21 in Minsk, will in the best case be seen as a positive signal from the Belorussian capital, but will not be a decisive factor in the development of further bilateral relations. For Brussels, the results of the Putin - Lukashenko meeting will be more important, of which European officials will go off in their further policy concerning Belarus.
Pavel Yurintsev, specially for EADaily