Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

Andrei Sannikov: “EU shouldn’t conduct a dialogue with Lukashenka without conditions“


Representatives of the Belarusian opposition and independent experts from Belarus criticized a European Alternative for Belarus. This report was prepared by "Kwasniewski group", a working group of the International Center for Democratic Transition.

"Kwasniewski’s group", composed mainly of former heads of state and former foreign ministers, analyzed the situation in Belarus and proposed negotiating with official Minsk.

The last discussion on the European Alternative for Belarus was held in Vilnius on May 30. Former president of Poland Alexander Kwasniewski, head of the working group of the International Center for Democratic Transition and members of the group read the report. Belarus was represented by Andrei Sannikov, leader of the civil campaign "European Belarus"; former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin; leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka; rector of the European Humanities University Anatol Mikhailau; deputy head of the "For Freedom" movement Yury Hubarevich; independent politologist and experts.

The representatives of the Belarusian opposition harshly criticized the report by "Kwasniewski’s group". According to Andrei Sannikov, leader of the civil campaign "European Belarus", the report doesn’t take into consideration the Belarusian reality and gives an inadequate estimation of the opposition.

"Very powerful people of this group took part in the meeting. Besides former Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski, the meeting was attended by István Gyarmati, head of the International Center for Democratic Transition. "Kwasniewski’s group" prepared a report based on the situation they saw before Belarus had been included in the Eastern partnership programme,"
Andrei Sannikov told in an interview to the Charter’97 press center. "The report mentions the arguments we still see in statements by certain European officials and politicians – a hope that the regime of Lukashenka is able to move Belarus closer to Europe. But it is fundamentally wrong. And the latest actions of the regime, stepping up of the repressions against the opposition are sharp evidence of that. Talks of Prime Ministers of Belarus and Russia took place before our meeting. And Lukashenka has demonstrated that rapprochement with Europe is needed by him only for bargaining with Russia".

Representatives of "Kwasniewski’s group" planned to discuss the document with the Belarusian authorities. However, as Radio Svaboda informs, the official Minsk refused a meeting.

"As far as I know, participants of the "group" were set to meet with representatives of the official Minsk and offered such a meeting to Lukashenka,"
Andrei Sannikov confirmed. "But they were denied a meeting. Apparently, even such careful approaches that we see in the report, does not suit the current authorities of Belarus".

As said by the "European Belarus" leader, Europe shouldn’t conduct dialogue with the dictatorial regime of Lukashenka without conditions.

"We have voiced our criticism, told about the today’s situation in Belarus," Sannikov stated. "We were discontented with a bit derogative tone in the report concerning the Belarusian opposition. Though it was stated there that the conditions in which the opposition has to work, the conditions of the dictatorship, should be considered. The tendency of the recent time aimed at "amending" Lukashenka does not suit us. Today a "window of possibilities" exists, and it should be used. Summing up the results of our discussion an analytical note would be prepared, and meetings of the heads and participants of the "group" with the leadership of the European Union will take place. We can discuss shortcomings of this report. I hope that "Kwasniewski’s group" and the European Union will thoroughly analyze their attempts to conduct the dialogue with Lukashenka without any conditions, and will draw right conclusions".

On May 30, on the way to a meeting with "Kwasniewski’s group", Andrei Sannikov and Alyaksandr Kazulin were detained at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border for a scrupulous document inspection and personal search. Border guards and tax police could not explain the reasons of their actions. As a result, the politicians were held at the border for more than an hour and then released. It is not the first time when oppositionists undergo a thorough inspection at the Belarusian border.