David Kramer: Lukashenka understands only pressure and economic sanctions
The Belarusian dictator poses a threat for independence of the country, so it is necessary to expand economic sanctions against his regime.
It has been stated by David J. Kramer, President of Freedom House, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, at the OSCE conference in Vilnius on December 5.
"I think that it is extremely important for the US and the EU to take additional steps in imposing economic sanctions and to do that as soon as possible, before Lukashenka sold the country to Russia… We see that for the sake of remaining in power Lukashenka sacrifices independence of the country", Kramer stated.
Freedom House President expressed regret that Russia had decided to support the Belarusian regime: "10 billion dollars for the fictitious nuclear power plant, billions of dollars of energy subsidies, loans. Unfortunately, it is a step backward, as to my mind, with onset of the economic crisis Lukashenka found himself on a thin ice, which had been created by himself. Unfortunately, it seems that the leaders in Moscow who are thinking in the same way, are lending aid to him".
According to Kramer, pressure and sanctions are the only way of cooperation with is understandable for Lukashenka. "We must understand that he cannot redeem his good name any more, he would not lead Belarus into the democratic future. He is an obstacle for Belarus on the way of becoming a member of the European family,” Kramer believes. “Demands of absolute and unconditional release of political prisoners is an indispensable condition before any talks related to Belarus. It is putting right the bad job, it is not something for which Lukashenka should get any kind of compensation".
The head of the Freedom House admitted that with expanding economic sanctions against Belarus common citizens may suffer as well: "At a certain stage these sanctions are to affect common Belarusians in order for the grassroots pressure to start. However, the main target of these sanctions is not common citizens of Belarus".
According to the politician, if the EU and the US had imposed sanctions against Beltransgaz timely, it could have stopped its sale to Russia.
"We should do anything to make things difficult for Lukashenka", Kramer noted and offered not to hold the 2014 Ice Hockey Championship in Belarus, and to impose a ban for Lukashenka’s plane to travel over the territories of the EU and US, when he "would be flying to Ahmadinejad and Chavez".
However, it is important to remember that Lukashenka is not a recognized president of the country, Kramer noted.