Belarus' opposition activists criticize decision to invite Lukashenko to Brussels
Belarus' opposition activists are skeptical about Brussels' decision to invite the country's authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, to the so-called Eastern Partnership summit in late November.
Anatoly Lebedko, chairman of the opposition United Civil Party, says that by making that decision, the West assumes all the political responsibility for how Lukashenko uses the situation: whether hard questions will force the authoritarian leader to make changes or he will return as a victor without any motivation for altering his hard-line policies.
"You (the West) have invited (Lukashenko) and you are taking the responsibility. You did not ask for our (the opposition's) opinion. You made the political decision and you are taking the responsibility for it," Lebedko told BNS in Vilnius.
"And we are now raising the question of what is in your portfolio for Lukashenko. What message you are sending to him? Are you speaking about free and fair elections? Are you saying that what are needed are real economic reforms, not bogus ones? Are you speaking about the nuclear power plant problem?" he said.
In Lebedko's words, Brussels currently "prioritizes pragmatism over values".
"And if Lukashenko goes to Brussels for the Eastern Partnership summit, he will go there as the winner of the two decades-long battle with the West. He has not changed, but the West accept him," he said.
Denis Sadovsky of the Belarusian Christian Democratic Party also described the invitation as a premature move.
"No real changes have taken place in Belarus. The past presidential polls and general elections showed that the results were falsified and that the Belarusian nation has no freedom of election," he told BNS.
The Belarusians participated in the traditional, annual consultations between Lithuanian parliamentary political parties and Belarus' democratic opposition hosted by the Seimas on Friday.
The European Union has invited Belarus to participate in the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels on the same terms as other partner countries.