Updated at 14:29,23-10-2020

Klaskovsky: Wiegand came to understand what to do with Belarus


Ice has begun to melt in the West direction: senior European official - Gunnar Wiegand came to Belarus. Moreover, the director of European Union’s European External Action Service met as with the Foreign Minister Martynov, as well as with representatives of opposition political parties and civil society.

Press-service of the Belarusian MFA noted that the parties "discussed current issues of Belarusian-European relations and possible approaches towards establishing further dialogue".

Belarusian opposition politicians and human rights defenders after a meeting with Wiegand said that in the coming weeks some of the key political prisoners would be released. They also noted, the EU "has the need to develop the single transition plan for Belarus", which will be launched as soon as the situation in the country changes.

Whether Wiegand's visit is the first signal about the end of the "cold war" between Belarus and the EU? Which political prisoners should wait for a soon release? Why the doors for some European officials in Belarus are always open, and others are not even allowed to stand on a threshold? These questions are answered in an interview with UDF.BY by political analyst Alexander Klaskovsky.

- Wiegand's visit is the beginning of the next "thaw" in relations between Minsk and Brussels?

- Analysts have predicted that after a period of "the cold war", sounding out of some common grounds will begin. Of course, the "war" will not end tomorrow, but both sides have a need for its completion, or at least weakening.

- What are these needs?

For Belarusian leadership the geopolitical maneuver is a trump card, a favorite method. Our authorities has already sounded the situation, that may arise after Putin's return in the Kremlin. As soon as he assures himself the six-year term, more tough demands for participation in the Eurasian integration and in asset sales will be made to Belarus. Minsk prepares the ground, so that in some case it would be possible to shift to the West.

- Why Belarus is searching for contacts with the EU, it is clear. It is unclear why European officials are trying to negotiate with the Belarusian authorities.

- Some European officials wondered how sanctions are effective. Obviously, the visa sanctions are not really act against our leadership, and economic ones, EU does not want to apply them because of purely pragmatic reasons. Europe in its relations with Minsk got into a kind of impasse: on the one hand it should maintain the principle, but on the other - there is a need in dialogue, as there's nowhere "to fall" anymore. Wiegand came to understand what to do with Belarus.

- After Wiegand's talks with representatives of the Belarusian opposition and civil society, it was reported that in the coming weeks some of the key political prisoners may be released. How real is this scenario?

- Wiegand's visit to Minsk is the result of backroom diplomatic contacts. Let's say "the plan of Mladenov's-2" is outlined. Last year, it was after the visit of the Bulgarian Minister, they began to release political prisoners in bundles, Lukashenko has even promised to organize a round table discussion with the opposition. But then everything slowed down, and the relationship only deteriorated. It is possible that at the stage of "probing the soil", everything will be over at this time too. We everyone know the temper of Belarusian leadership and how the EU is bonded by requirements and value imperatives. Probably, the turn-based strategy will be developed and the first step, of course, will be the release of political prisoners.

- Who of the political prisoners should first wait for the release?

- The first candidate to be released from a colony is Sannikov, number two - Bondarenko. The appeal for pardon have already been received from them, so it is the most convenient option for Lukashenko.

- Recently, the Belarusian authorities didn't gave permission to Germany’s human rights commissioner Markus Loening, on Wednesday they arrested members of the "Litvinski Club". Don't you think, these actions poorly correlate with the possibility to resume the dialogue between Belarus and the EU?

- I don't think that Lukashenko gave instructions to detain members of the "Litvinski Club". This is the case when the inertia of a huge power unit is working. It is made for repressions, and middle managers know that nobody will blame them, if they put a couple of opponents in jail without a matter. But if they overlook, they will be bawled out for sure. This is zeal at the level of executors, which coincided with Wiegand's visit.

- Why then the European commissioner for human rights was not let in?

- Authorities saw in Markus Loening the person, who will lecture about human rights. He is not the man who "sorts out" relations of Minsk-Brussels. Lukashenko doesn't need this "moralist" in our country, just an extra stimulus for the authorities and security services.

Wiegand is the highest level European official, who arrived in Minsk on the preliminary agreement, who rather resolves conceptual aspects of the relationship between the two countries. He is, of course, also makes demands and is dissatisfied with lots of things, but the benefit of communication with him for Belarusian authorities is more obvious.