Between the Kremlin and historical memory: go Lukashenka in Vilnius and Warsaw

The Belarusian head of state in March was invited to Warsaw for the 80th anniversary of the start of world war II, in Vilnius, wondering about the invitation to the ceremony of reburial of the rebels in 1863, among which the Belarusian national hero Kastus Kalinowski. Meanwhile, after the lifting of sanctions in 2016 Lukashenko has ignored all the invitations from the EU — in Paris, Brussels and Munich.

Is Lukashenka himself sent to European capitals, Prime Minister and Minister of foreign Affairs, Belarusian experts explained the refusal of a flattering invitation unwillingness to taunt the Kremlin attempts to make friends with a hostile Russia to the West. But visits to Warsaw and Vilnius is a different matter. 1 September 1939 the Second world war came and West Belarus, which was before the Soviet attack on Poland on September 17 in this state.

Ceremony in Vilnius this autumn, is no less important for Belarus, among the rebels, and secretly buried by the Russian authorities on the hill of Gediminas after the suppression of the uprising of 1863-1864, one of the leaders of Kastus Kalinouski. Hero — General to Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, but for Belarus special — suicide letter from under the gallows written in Belarusian. However, the new Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausea haven’t decided which of the representatives of the Belarusian authorities will be invited to the ceremony of reburial of remains of participants of the uprising of 1863-1864. The main reason is the difficult political relations between the two countries after the decision of Belarus to build a nuclear power plant under the Russian project in Ostrovets on the border with Lithuania. While Nausea added that he is ready to improve relations with Minsk.

The new President of Lithuania will not change the attitude of the official Vilnius to the “nuclear issue”, said in an interview with RFI, the Lithuanian political scientist Vytis jurkonis.

Vytis jurkonis: “I think the problem is, it exists, it will not disappear, but, despite the fact that the issue of Ostrovets is, trade Lithuanian-Belarusian had a pretty good performance, the flow of tourists was also, investments were also so in that sense I don’t think something very special has to change. And even with a new President, I would have seen that the trend should be more or less the same. Maybe soften a little rhetoric. But expectations, for example, the official Minsk, which maybe will soften as the Lithuanian position regarding the astravyets, that we may be, we will abandon the position not to buy electricity, I think it’s not going to change because she was adopted the corresponding law. Well, in principle it is necessary to understand the Belarusian side that the issue of Ostrowiec seen as a matter of national and energy security. So the President is unlikely to change anything in this regard”.

The Lithuanian expert visit of representatives of Belarusian authorities in Vilnius indicator for Minsk.

Vytis jurkonis: “It is a litmus test for the official Minsk the first thing about where they are about distancing themselves from the Kremlin, because the reburial of the remains Kalinowski is the question of historical memory. And I think that at least at the level of the Prime Minister an invitation from Lithuania will definitely be the Polish and Ukrainian side. So what kind of answer Minsk, where they see themselves close to the Kremlin or to the European part of the European historical memory and the memory on”.

The recent attacks on the West during Lukashenko’s visit to Valaam and St Petersburg, the analyst regards as traditional attempt to say nice host Russian side.

Vytis jurkonis: “This is a complex issue for the Belarusian authorities, but we see that the rhetoric of Alexander Lukashenko can vary 24 hours a day. That is, it would not be surprising if he changed his position, back then it was all done. But for citizens of Belarus, I think it’s still an important question — how will react the Belarusian authorities. This time. The second is the perception of Belarus as a Western partner because the official Minsk, Mr. Mackay, made many attempts, saying we were under pressure from the Kremlin, and these signals are constantly received and in Berlin and in Brussels and even in Washington. And I think just this event in October—November, the reburial of the remains Kalinowski, will be the litmus paper and indicator, which actually sees itself as the official Minsk. Because one is words and the other is a real action, and yet this is the most important symbol, the event for the Belarusian authorities to the Belarusian citizens. And let’s see how they will react to it. Of course, this is a difficult situation, because it will be some indicator for the Kremlin leaders, how these rhetorical turns are valid and will be translated into some real action. So we’ll see. I myself really wonder what will the official Minsk and who is ultimately going be used to represent Belarus”.

At the invitation of the President of Poland Andrzej Duda to come to Warsaw on 1 September Minsk has not responded yet. Putin, by the way, Warsaw has decided not to invite. “And most likely, Lukashenko will not be in Warsaw or in Vilnius it all is of little interest. Only interested in the economic and political benefits”, — said doctor of political Sciences Pavel Usov, Director of the Warsaw Centre for political analysis and forecasting.

Pavel Usov: “the Political ceiling of this game with the West is reached. And for the political ceiling has no practical action, there are no practical solutions — that Minsk — this on the visa issue, and more systematic liberalization of the economy, some kind of democratization of the society. In this direction, of course, Belarus can not go and do not want. Lukashenka had been invited to Paris, to Brussels. Lukashenka was even invited to events associated with the beginning of world war II, he officially received the invitation, but I doubt he will go. Here, even in a formal, diplomatic, political level, Lukashenka does not want and is afraid to make turns to the West. Obviously, under these conditions, integration of pressure (Russia), Lukashenko is afraid of further irritating Moscow, even these visits to the West.”

At the same time, 22 Jul Lukashenko at the meeting with the head of the EU delegation to Belarus Andrea Victorin said that Belarus is ready to strengthen dialogue with the EU not only on economic, but also political issues. Special thanks to Lukashenko expressed for the financial support that the EU has projects in Belarus.
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