The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has been criticised of being ineffective, under-financed and rather limited in scope. But now it seems the slowish EU diplomacy delivers some promising results…ok, maybe no quite yet results but let’s call it a window of opportunity. The last European dictator, Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenka responded to the “non-paper – What the European Union could bring to Belarus” in a ‘non -official’ speech. Vladimir Socor has the quotations of Lukashenko in the Eurasia Daily Monitor:
“We are [situated] in the center of Europe and we must be on normal terms with the East and the West.” Instead of a balanced policy, “We have been flying on just one wing for quite some time. (…) The lesson from the recent and ongoing conflicts with Russia over energy supply and transit is just how much we need investors from Europe and the United States.”
Interesting, so what happened to the famous unfinished Union of Russia and Belarus?
Lukashenka reaffirmed his recent vows to “never let Belarus be swallowed up by Russia,” not to introduce the Russian ruble in Belarus (“an oblique way to deprive us of our independence”), and to take reciprocal steps following “Russia’s destruction of our customs union”
This project seems quite dead. But while killing the relationship with Russia, he made some incredible remarks towards the EU, echoing the ENP vocabulary quite well (energy security, trade preferences, migration control)
“The West will not enjoy energy security without Belarus” (…) He called on the EU to open its markets for Belarus products and to allow them to compete without addressing the issue of quality (…) And he described Belarus as a shield for Europe against uncontrolled migration from the East, implicitly asking for compensation in the form of EU trade preferences.
So maybe Lukashenka becomes the second Voronin…who knows…? (in the sense that he ‘officialy’ broke with Russia and claimed to have turned towards the EU. However, his ENP record tells another story.)