Kremlin won’t comment on Lukashenka’s statements about Moscow’s pressure
The Kremlin does not intend to make other countries recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and will not comment on Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s statements about Moscow’s pressure on Minsk, the Russian president’s spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday.
"Russia will not exert any pressure on any country with regard to recognition, and that is why we leave these strange statements by Alyaksandr Ryhoravich [Lukashenka] without comment," the spokeswoman said.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed its position regarding the recognition by other countries of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, and President Dmitry Medvedev has more than once stressed that the recognition of those two republics was the only possible step under those conditions, Ms. Timakova said.
"The recognition of Ossetia and Abkhazia is not the business of Russia," Mr. Lukashenka said at a government conference on May 29. "This is the business of Belarus and those states, with which we have excellent contacts and which know our tactics."
"I answered this question [about the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia] a long time ago, and pressure from both the East and the West over this issue will not be tolerated," the Belarusian leader said. "We're an independent and sovereign country and will do everything in our interests."
"Therefore, remember: No begging, no groveling," Mr. Lukashenka said, "If they [Russia] don’t have the $500 million that they promised us a long time ago, and we calculated our budget accordingly, don't go and don't ask."
Belarus should act as an economically and politically independent country should, Mr. Lukashenka suggested. "We have a lot of leverage to influence the situation and hold off challenges, including those from Russia." Russia acts "insincerely" regarding the issue of the recognition by Belarus of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Mr. Lukashenka said in an interview with Russian journalists on June 1.
"All leaders of Russia tell me, "This has nothing to do with our affairs. If you recognize, it will be good. If not, this will go," he said. "That is an example of insincerity, as I know what they expect from us. But they should tell me at least one-on-one, "Listen, we have to settle this issue today or tomorrow." But since I can read between the lines, …I realize the significance of the matter. We understand that this recognition would not be not superfluous for Russia. I don’t want to publicly speak about the details, but we sacredly adhere to what we promised."
The Belarusian leader has said on many occasions that he has left the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to the discretion of the parliament.
The newly elected National Assembly will decide whether or not to follow Russia`s lead and recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as sovereign states, he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in November 2008. "Let the parliamentarians discuss it. I don`t want to do it single-handedly," he noted.
There are as yet no plans to place the issue of the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states on the agenda of the House of Representatives’ ongoing spring session, Syarhey Maskevich, chairman of the House’s International Affairs Committee, told reporters in late May.
"This is an issue to be decided at the state level, not by Parliament," he said. "The president has simply asked Parliament to express its opinion on the issue. Parliament cannot make a decision on it and will only express its opinion."
However, Mr. Maskevich stressed that the House of Representatives would consider the issue "sooner of later."
Apart Russia, Nicaragua remains the only country to have recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.