Updated at 14:37,26-01-2021

Foreign Minister Makey blames EU for Ukraine’s crisis

Anastasiya Salanovich, BelaPAN

The European Union must take part of the blame for Ukraine’s current political and economic turmoil, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey said in an interview with the Czech Republic’s newspaper Lidove Noviny.

Referring to last November’s Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Mr. Makey said that he saw EU leaders criticize Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for “being torn between the East and the West.” According to the Belarusian minister, some EU heads of state warned Mr. Yanukovych that Kyiv should not expect financial aid from the 28-nation bloc.

Mr. Makey defended the Ukrainian president’s decision to seek closer ties with Russia to save Ukraine’s crumbling economy amid the lack of assistance from the EU. “After that the EU changed its mind and started urgently offering some measures of support while simultaneously stoking the sentiments of people who had taken to the streets for anti-government protests,” the government’s news agency BelTA quoted him as saying.

The Belarusian minister stressed that the EU, the United States and the International Monetary Fund had promised extensive financial aid to Ukraine only after the ousting of Mr. Yanukovych.

He suggested that the EU should not have told Kyiv to choose between the West and Russia as its integration priorities.

Belarus would welcome Ukraine’s accession to the Customs Union but acknowledges the country’s right to decide independently on which bloc to join, said Mr. Makey. At the same time, he said, Minsk views Ukraine’s possible accession to NATO as “unacceptable.” “That would lead to even bigger unwelcome consequences,” he warned.

Speaking about the Eastern Partnership, Mr. Makey noted that Minsk was interested to take part in the program and viewed it as a tool of improving its relations with the European Union. However, he added, Belarus is not ready to consider joining the EU at present.

“The EU believes that today everyone should and is ready to rush to join the organization, while the EU will be choosing how and with whom it will build some relations. But we won’t be rushing [to join the EU] because we see that there are plenty of problems in the EU,” he stressed.

“If we saw that this is indeed an attractive idea for us, we may rush [to join the EU], but only after weighing up very carefully all pros and cons and calculating all consequences.”