BRUSSELS — Belarus, which is often described as the last dictatorship in Europe, emerged from the diplomatic deep freeze Monday when the European Union temporarily lifted a travel ban on the country’s president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party) had to explain his visit Belarus during Parliamentary question time on Thursday, and give an accounting of statements that he made while in Minsk.
Members of the European Parliament have been flying the flag for the EU banner, anthem and motto. At a plenary session in Brussels, they changed their own internal rules so the flag must now be flown at all parliamentary meetings.
The United States and the European Union have criticized recent parliamentary elections in Belarus, where opposition candidates failed to win a single seat. In this report from Washington, VOA Senior Correspondent André de Nesnera looks at the current state of relations between Belarus and the United States.
Mr Lukashenko, “Europe’s last dictator”, has organized new elections which he promises will be “free and fair”.
Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, revels in his notoriety. Lucky are those, he says with a smile, who get to meet and sit down at a table with “the last dictator in Europe”. It is a sign of the 54-year-old Belarusan leader’s defiance of western political rules that he is ready to turn this epithet into a joke. It is also a measure of his confidence. After 14 years in power, he faces few internal challenges, in spite of a parliamentary election due at the end of the month.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, was subjected to a tirade of four-letter abuse when he spoke to his Russian counterpart over the country’s invasion of Georgia.
EU leaders believed Russia’s economic development would make it more European. Not anymore.
Far from being a mystery and an enigma—to use Churchill’s language—today’s Russia now stands revealed as a bully, wrapped in nationalism and cloaked with its leader’s arrogance. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s adventure in Georgia has produced shock and awe at the sight of tanks, planes and warships mobilized against a small neighbor. But Russia has always been a great mythmaker—from setting up Potemkin villages in the 18th century to fomenting great fear that Sovietism would conquer the world after 1945. Here are 10 of the biggest myths about today’s Russia:
The United States said Friday it is prepared for “significant” improvement in the chilly relationship with Belarus, but will be looking closely at the conduct of elections in that country next month as well as other issues. Belarus this month released what were believed to be its last three political prisoners. VOA’s David Gollust reports from the State Department.