By Işıkgün Akfırat
Belarus’ name is constantly mentioned in the Ukraine crisis. The country is in a sense holding the front of Eurasia against NATO expansion. While the countries in the Balkans were torn apart by NATO and fell into the clutches of colored revolutions, Belarus stood firm. The public administration, which resisted globalization, closed all establishments funded by Soros. Leaning on its people and its friends in Eurasia, especially Russia, Belarus resisted the waves of sanctions from the West.
We interviewed Dr. Alexey Dzermant, Senior Research Fellow at the Philosophy Institute of the Belarusian National Academy, and Northern Eurasia Director of the Center for Analytics. Dzermant is a political scientist and philosopher who has been awarded many times from the Belarussian Presidency. We spoke with him about the approach of Belarus, the “rock of Eurasia”, to the Ukraine problem, the recent constitutional amendment in the country, and the political vision of the “colored revolution bender” President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“Belarus is involved in the Ukrainian conflict – but without own soldiers”
First of all: What is generally the position of Belarus regarding the Ukrainian crisis? Why is the name of the country being more mentioned than other neighbors of Ukraine right now?
First of all, the Republic of Belarus is a very close military ally of the Russian Federation. Our military forces are very close and united in sense of common politics. That’s why when Russia decided to begin the special military operation; Belarus of course was involved in it, but without its own military forces. There are no Belarussian soldiers on Ukrainian soil. But our territory is like a fortification territory where Russian forces have a base, which provides them the possibility to go to Ukraine. That’s why from the Western side, we are accused to be an aggressor through helping Russia in this special operation. But we know that Ukrainian authorities deny our active action in Ukrainian territory.
The Western powers nevertheless imposed new sanctions on Belarus. What do you think about the reason or the pretext behind this step? Is there something new about these sanctions? Are these crippling the Belarussian economy or is the country prepared for what is coming?
From the beginning of our independence, especially after Alexander Lukashenko became the president in 1996, Belarus has been living under various Western sanctions. This occurred because the West doesn’t like our state, our leader Lukashenko and our politics. In the West, they accused us with authoritarianism also due to our own social and economical politics which do not follow the Western, neoliberal way. We have a quite strong social state. And, of course, we are very close to Russia. Our political choice is to be with Russia in a close union. That’s why the West always doesn’t like our leaders and our political elite. But after 2020, there was a new attempt to organize a colored revolution in Belarus. The West has imposed new sanctions on Belarus.
“We are prepared for sanctions”
Practically, they are continuing the older ones all the time. Now, after the special operation of Russia, they achieved a new reason to impose more sanctions. I don’t think we are not prepared. I think Belarus is quite adapted to all these sanctions. Of course there are some new measures, especially in the financial field, like the SWIFT and so on. But I don’t think that they are very dangerous for us. Because our market is Russia. We have close economical relations with China, also with different Asian countries and with Turkey. Of course sanctions damage our economy. But I don’t think they are as dangerous as some in the West expect them to be. I think we are quite prepared for the sanctions.
As you mentioned, President Lukashenko has good relations with President Erdogan. It’s important that a NATO country develops good relations with such a country resisting the Western powers for some time now. How do you see this relation? How is Turkey’s stance regarding the military operation of Russia echoed in Belarussian media and public opinion?
In Belarus, we can see the quite accurate position of Turkey and President Erdogan. I think there is a very positive view of the President in our public opinion. We see here that Turkey has its own sovereign and independent position, though being a member of NATO. That is an independent and sovereign role in the world and in Eurasia. Belarus historically has very good relations with some countries like Azerbaijan. Through Azerbaijan, we have developed very good relations with Turkey and in general with Turkic world. I think this is a very good, strong link with the developing countries in the East. I think that the relations between Belarus and Turkey/Turkic world have a strong perspective. Especially as we can see that the position of the Western countries is absolutely unconstructive and even destructive towards our state and our sovereignty. We should develop this links between our business, and our peoples. It should be noticed that we have a very good relation with Azerbaijan and Turkic people. We have no arrogance towards them. That’s why I think our relations have a very good perspective.
After the Western sanctions, many companies stopped their activities in Russia and pulled out of the market. In a way, these sanctions can be seen as an opportunity to develop stronger economic relations with different countries. Russia made this clear with its statements. Do you think that the same applies to Belarusian case? Is this an opportunity for Eurasian countries?
Yes, absolutely. That’s a good and very interesting possibility to develop these relations. We can deepen these relations in some areas and with some countries. Take for example Russia and Turkey: they are trying again to reach the highest level of this relation. And this is very good. This will of course also influence Belarus, because Belarus is also very closely involved in some economical projects with Russia.
Of course we should think about a more stable axis between, for example, Turkey, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan. I think this is a new, very strong axis in Eurasia. A new Eurasia that is independent from the West. This is our common and main goal to be independent and to decide on our problems without any Western influence. I think we can do the best to realize it.
“Neo-Nazis from all over Europe are coming to Ukraine”
In Ukraine, alongside with the Azov Regiment, there are Belarussian neo-Nazis and this is a real danger to all the Eastern European countries. Are they still active in Belarus in some way? How do you evaluate the problem of neo-Nazis?
Now in Ukraine, there are some hundreds of Belarussians who decided to fight on the Ukrainian side. They are members of different nationalist and neo-Nazi groups. But when they were in Belarus, they were part of the pro-Western movement. There is no any so-called anti-Lukashenko nationalist with a really independent and own position. They get money from the West, for example from Poland. They are like puppets in hands of the United States, and of some European forces. You know they are so-called ‘nationalists’, who in fact do not pursue nationalism, because they only want Belarus to be part of the West and against Russia. This is not a really sovereign position. This is not real independence.
The West led them with only one sole purpose: to be against Lukashenko and to organize a colored revolution. I don’t think they have really constructive role in Ukraine. In fact, I think this neo-Nazi movement organizes chaos in Ukraine and of course, this is a big problem for all neighboring countries. Because neo-Nazis from all over the Europe are coming to Ukraine, including from Belarus and Russia. They are real extremists; they want to build an absolutely unhuman regime in Ukraine. Of course, this is only in the interests of the West, not in the interests of Eurasia or of common living in this region. That’s why they are very dangerous and this special operation is justified from the view of Russia.
I think they have no place in Belarus, because they are very destructive elements and also pro-Western. They do not want really independent and sovereign Belarus. It is not real independence they are after; they want to be under the influence of the West, of Poland, of Britain.
Why colored revolutions in Belarus have always failed
To provide our readers a historical background: I know that they were at least five attempts of colored revolutions in Belarus. However, Belarus managed to defeat all of these Western attempts. How come that colored revolutions succeeded in all Eastern European but not in Belarus? What is the secret behind it?
That’s right. At least five attempt for colored revolutions or coup d’états have taken place in Belarus. The main reason for their failure is, I think, that our president has real support from people and the people believe in him and not in the so-called opposition, because the opposition that tried to organize these color revolutions in fact is very pro-Western. They wanted all this time to destroy the state, to destroy its economy and to place us under the influence of the West, of Poland and of Lithuania. But in fact, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine now, have no own independent position in economy and in external affairs and so on.
That’s why Belarussian people understand that Aleksandr Lukashenko is a strong leader and a real authority in Belarus. He is a very independent figure in the sense of politics. Of course our president has the support of our armed forces, our police forces, our army and of all the military sphere of our state. They are not traitors and they have really good relations to him and they support him. That’s why there was no chance to succeed with a colored revolution. Because Lukashenko has the support from the people and the armed forces. That’s why we have defeated all these attempts.
The president also closed all the Soros-linked NGOs, the main organizers for these color revolutions. Is that correct?
Yes. The Soros Foundation was kicked out from the country nearly 10 or 15 years ago. In Belarus, there is no possibility to develop this network of influence, of organizing anti-government actions. Of course, our politics in Belarus is not to allow a network of influence inside our country.
Constitutional changes in Belarus: from a new state organ over protecting family values to ensuring social state
There was a referendum for a new constitutional change. The change has been approved is going to be enacted soon. What was the essence of this constitutional change?
First of all, we want our political system to be more stable, even without Lukashenko. In our constitution, we have not only a president, a parliament and a government now. We have also a new organ, a new element in our political system. It’s All Belarussian People’s Assembly. It is like a “kurultay” in the Turkish tradition. If there is any danger in the state, for example, if the President were to die, all power will belong to the All Belarussian People’s Assembly. It is like a new system of balance in Belarus. Not to allow any foreign force organize a colored revolution or coup. I think it is a quite interesting innovation and it will work, because it is actually not an entirely new idea. In previous times, this assembly has several times took historical decisions in support of Lukashenko or on some reforms in Belarus during his presidency.
Of course there are some ideological elements. Traditional values. We are against those Western attempts to disorganize the traditional family. It is written in our constitution that we stand for traditional family and for traditional values. Of course for us, the memory the victory in World War II is very important. It is very important to continue the anti-Nazi and anti-fascist tradition. We wanted to have that written into the constitution.
Also for Belarussians, it is very important to save the welfare and social state. I am referring to the elements of equality between our citizens. This is another very important element for us and we have also written in our constitution that the state will organize social institutions and the social state in Belarus.
The economic integration of Belarus and Russia is on the agenda – for political unity it is not the time
The process of the union state between Belarus and Russia has been an issue for the last 20 years. But last year, there was also another constitutional change and the media has portrayed it as the unification of the two states. What is the real nature of this process? What do you see its future?
In the last year, the process of developing close ties between Belarus and Russia has been activated. The main result is realizing of 28 programs of deep integration. The integration, first of all, in the economical sphere. In future, within 2 or 3 years, we will have to unite our economics, the Russian and the Belarusian. Two states but one economy. This is the main purpose of this process, because Western sanctions and pressure, the main important question is to be strong economically. That’s why we decided to build practically one economy.
Very closely united with strong cooperation in technologies, industry and all economically important spheres. Concerning the political sphere, I don’t think now that we will see a very active process. Because the main problem is economy. In military sphere, we are very close now. We act practically as very close allies and we can also state that the Belarusian and Russian armies are very close. That’s why for the current situation I don’t want to see any political integration. This is not the question of the present time. But in economy and military spheres, we are very close and the aim is to become closer in the economy just to have a strong position against Western pressure.
Belarus and Turkey
About the 15July 2016: There was a coup attempt in Turkey. President Lukashenko sided with Turkey and President Erdogan. He stated his strong support for the Turkish state. What can you say about this?
Our Belarusian position and our president are very clear on these matters: We are against all these Western attempts to organize coups or colored revolutions in any country. We think in Belarus that every country all over the world and in Eurasia has its own right to decide its way of development. We can see that Turkey under the rule of President Erdogan has a strong will to be a strong country, a regional leader. Of course, we can see that many politicians, many forces in the West don’t like that. That’s why our clear position was to support Turkey and President Erdogan in its decision to become more independent from the West. The main reason for these attempts of coups and colored revolutions were the position and politics of President Erdogan to get stronger as a state and country. That’s why the West organized the attempt of 15th July coup.
We have solidarity with Turkey in that and more, because we support a multipolar world with strong countries, strong leaders and not for the Western dictatorship. I think it was very clear that we supported Turkey and President Erdogan in that moment.