Tuesday 14 October 2008

Welcome, dictator Lukashenko!

It seems to be enough to release a few prisioners for the European Union to welcome again the last dictator on the continent.

The travel ban on Belarussian dictator Lukashenko is only lifted until April 2009 when it will expire if the Council does not find a consensus on keeping doors open. However, it is a lift of restrictions, temporary or not.

What kind of decision is this?

Do they want to invite him to come to the European Union, see its pleasures, its beauties, its nice little corners, and then he returns to Belarus and changes his mind and his country - just because he is afraid of losing his freedoms after a few month? Make him "addicted" to wealth, wisdom, and wine?

Or do we say: Hey, for every political prisoner you free we offer you one more month of freedom? For slightly democratic elections (and not those with 100% Lukashenko) we would even offer one or two years.

What kind of message is this? Especially after the last elections?!

To be honest, I do not really get it. But maybe our leaders are just bored with themselves because they had to see each other to frequently these days because of the global crisis. They want a fresh new face, someone who is used to take decisions on his own and does not have to wait for lengthy democratic process. Maybe our leaders want to learn, to be even quicker in future crises.

So let's say together: Welcome, Mr. Lukashenko, to our beautiful European Union! Have fun! Enjoy life - and tell about it to your oppressed people!


Antal Dániel said...

As Gen. Patreus said in a rare political comment recently, 'talking to the enemy is useful'.

I think engagement with dictators who lack a real legitimacy is always helpful. If you look at Khrushchev's or Hungarian party-chief Karoly Grósz's visit to Disneyland, or János Kádár's visit to the U.S. these encounters seem to have stabilized them in the short-run, but I think it helped to undermine them in the long-run.

I think engagement, personal links between the ordinary people and the elites of the Communist dictatorships have effectively helped to bring down the wall. I think it is very welcome that Lukashenko can visit us in the EU. What matters is how you receive him and what you say.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on substance. Yet, the moment is not well chosen, because it gives a wrong sign.

Yes, Lukashenko has shown some good will, but the elections soon afterwards were a prove that in fact nothing changes.

So to the outside world it looks like the EU does not need much to change decisions that seemed to be based on firm principles before.

But in general I still agree: Isolation is rather counterproductive than really helpfull.

Antal Dániel said...

Yes, I think you are right with the timing. But ultimately, I cannot forget the moment when as a schoolkid I had to ask our old teacher to explain the term 'elections' in my German textbook. And she quietly explained that in democratic country, you do not go to the polling station to approve the Party but to choose from a list of parties. Engagement will in the long run make Lukashenko weaker, because the alternative to dictatorship is desirable to most human beings.And you have to see that the alternative is near, attainable and real.