President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko for the first time in three and a half years called for the European Union (after the abolition of against it personal sanctions of the EU) – he arrived in Vienna on 11 November, but the Austrian media did not say about this word, therefore, the visit of the Belarusian President is like a secret from the Europeans.
In Newspapers and on TV is silence. But according to Deutsche Welle that Lukashenka, who had been recently called “Europe’s last dictator” and the worst offender of human rights, and feels during a visit to the European Union as if nothing had happened. And his answers to questions from local journalists at a press conference even more convinced the media that this visit had to be silent: “the dictator” on several examples has shown that in Belarus, in contrast to Austria, a real democracy that Belarusians have more rights and freedoms, and that
When the journalist of a local TV station asked the question of “human rights,” Lukashenko, it would seem, was noticeably touched: “What you do not like in Belarus human rights?”.
Then followed a monologue about civil rights and social rights, the right to life, the right to work, on the ability of Belarusians to work not only at home but also abroad, about free education and medicine.
“Give me one EU country that would have reached such a level of social guarantees!”, asked Lukashenko at a joint press conference with Austrian President Alexander van der Bellena. He was silent. However, President van der Bellen – the figure is purely representative, since Austria is a parliamentary Republic, and the real power belongs to the Chancellor, Brigitte Bierlein.
“That is the essence of your democracy”, – sarcastically threw Lukashenko in response to another question of the Austrian journalist, catching her in ignorance of the sentiments regarding the death penalty in its homeland.
“Before you ask someone to abolishing the death penalty, it is necessary to know what he thinks your house is a society on this issue”, – said the President of Belorussia.
Lukashenko said that Belarus does not intend to cancel the penalty for membership in the Council of Europe. “As for the Council of Europe and our membership, accept – no thank you – be patient,” he said in response to the statement of the President of Austria that the legalization of the death penalty in Belarus prevents the country to be a full member of the Council of Europe. We will remind, Belarus remains the only European state where the death penalty is applied.
According to DW, the policy of Austria towards Belarus is that some call it “rational” and others as “unprincipled”. And everyone’s right in their own way. This corresponds to the General course of foreign policy of the country with a population of 8 million people, which is an EU member but not part of NATO, which is neutral, but often behaves loyally with the republics of the former USSR.
For example, a year and a half ago, the Austrian government refused EN masse to expel Russian diplomats after the poisoning in Britain of former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter, which accused Moscow.
At the end of March 2019, then Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz arrived in Minsk with two gifts for Lukashenko: a pair of cross-country skiing and oral invitation to Vienna on behalf of the President of Austria. Six months later, President Lukashenko met in the capital of a European state with all the honors, including honor guard.
From the residence of the Austrian President Alexander Lukashenko went to see the President of the Austrian Parliament, and from there to the economic forum Austria – Belarus, where speakers described the country as the “Silicon valley of Eastern Europe”, Minsk calling a “Paradise for programmers”. Description of President hall met with loud and prolonged applause.
“I could not come to this forum – addressed the audience Alexander Lukashenko. – Sitting and looking into this room, I tell myself – well, that came”.
His speech was a passionate call for deepening economic cooperation and the same strong opposition critics of the political regime in the country.
“Many reproach me – you have, say, authoritarianism and dictatorship, the President said. And I say ask the businessmen. This dictatorship is like?” According to him, investors do not complain about him to the political system.
“So why engage in double-talk and to talk about some kind of democracy? Look to your democracy you’re not buried” – continued Lukashenko, affecting the migration crisis in Europe.
However, according to him, Austrian authorities coped with the influx of refugees. A considerable role was played by the former foreign Minister and former Prime Minister, leader of the Austrian people’s party Sebastian Kurz. The same Kurtz, who brought six months ago in Minsk skiing and the invitation to Vienna and which, apparently, is coming back to the Prime Minister.
To dinner with him, according to the report on the website of the President of Belarus, and went to Alexander Lukashenko with the economic forum.
According to the Professor of the University of Vienna and an expert on the history of Eastern Europe Wolfgang müller, Austria’s relations with Belarus should be considered in the context of relations with Russia. “On the one hand, from the mid-1950s, especially after the suppression of anti-Soviet protests in neighboring Hungary in 1956, the relations of Austria with the Soviet Union was pragmatic, friendly and very compliant,” recalls the Professor.
In 1970-e years, this “moral neutrality” has reached its peak, something similar happened in other European countries ruled by social Democrats.
The second factor is economic interests, his Professor Muller says “totally exaggerated”. However, the Austrian business circles do not want to give up profits for political reasons (as in neighboring Germany). “Both of these factors can be called informal foreign-policy strategy of Austria,” he says.
As stated in interview to the newspaper “Kommersant”, the Belarusian political analyst, author of the Carnegie Moscow center Artyom shraibman, “Austria has traditionally been to Belarus a kind of lobbyist in the EU and Lukashenko has repeatedly noticed. In addition, Belarus has a lot of Austrian businesses in the communications industry, the banking sector. All this makes Austria almost the closest country to Minsk.”
As the Director of the Minsk Center for problems of European integration Yuri Shevtsov, Belarus and the European Union are moving towards each other, and this process is unstoppable. “Europe has moved from the idealistic concept of European values to the “Europe of two speeds”. This is not the Europe that fought against Lukashenko in the mid-90s,” he said.