TALLINN - Alexander Lukashenko, who won the presidential elections in Belarus again according to official election results, has been attempting to manipulate the West, including Europe, throughout his tenure as head of state, especially when relations with Russia have become turbulent at times, Estonian MEP Urmas Paet said on Monday.
"In this way, Belarus was included in the European Union's Eastern Partnership program, although in fact Lukashenko has never wanted to move closer to the Western realm of values. Lukashenko only has needed money and economic benefits from Europe. And has released political prisoners for this from time to time after demands by the EU, only to start putting them behind bars again after some time to get new bargaining room with the West. Lukashenko has been playing this kind of cynical game with the West all the time," Paet said.
The former longtime foreign minister of Estonia said that even though there is a hope mostly in the EU that maybe Belarus is indeed changing and opening up now, Lukashenko and the regime led by him will not change because dictators never change.
"He has overstepped the limit from where he believes there is no way back. And he isn't mistaken. The human rights violations committed by him would not allow him to enjoy his old age as ex-president looking at tractors on the fields of Belarus. Because the people would want justice," Paet said.
According to Paet, this justice is nowhere in sight.
"Just now yet another election was stolen and thinking different is again roughly suppressed. The question now is whether and what the European Union can and must do. For the start, one should stop being naive about Lukashenko's motives. Belarus controlled by Lukashenko will never become a free country of rule of law. For that a substantive change and different leaders are needed," Paet said.
The civil society of Belarus must be given much more support, Paet said.
"Political, economic, technological, informational, and so on. So that also genuinely free elections could take place one day. Recent weeks confirmed that there are many people in Belarus who would like Belarus to finally become a normal country of Europe. For Belarus to be also in value terms where it is anyway geographically, meaning in Europe. Hence the European Union must devise at least two functioning policies vis-a-vis Belarus -- one for the regime that stole the elections and the other for the civil society," Paet added.