Sobota, 20 dzieczębrze 2003 o.

Sacz about the Belarussian elections

In a belated reaction to the success of democratic forces in the Belarusian parliamentary elections held earlier this month, chancellor Jan Sacz has expressed his deep satisfaction with the result. He told the press: "This is an important moment, both for us and for Belarus. For centuries, the Belarusians have never been able to fully participate in the historical process. Instead, they were to follow the traces of foreign powers. But now it seems that finally the Belarusians have managed to shake off their historical legacy, to claim their legitimate part on the world scene." A letter of similar content was delivered by the R.T.C.'s ambassador to Minsk, Tomasz Miszczuk, to the leader of the victorious People's Renaissance Party, Uladzimir Kotau.

Foreign minister Olwarz Piniatyk is scheduled to pay an official visit to Belarus in the first week of January, during which he will discuss all options for future cooperation between our two countries with Kotau. Belarus' relationship with the Baltic League will be on the agenda, too; it is expected that Belarus will submit a formal application for candidate-membership within a couple of months.

The lateness of the R.T.C.'s official reaction seems to be caused by two factors: the general strike that lasted more than a week and affected both the press and the diplomatic personnel, and the fact that the first congratulatory letter to Kotau never reached its destination. Piniatyk said that he will investigate the latter. Regarding the strike he said: "The right to strike is a good thing. But when it means that a whole country is dismembered for a whole week, perhaps we should allow ourselves to reconsider its limits. This made us look like fools in the face of the whole world."

Sacz's statement was met with relief by the Union of Belarusians in the R.T.C. (ZBRDK). Deputy chairman Wiktar Bielahalawiec said: "Of course, we were worried about our government's silence. We thought that perhaps not every member of the government was happy with the new situation, or that the government was simply too busy with its own problems to pay attention. Now we know at least that it was just a matter of miscommunication."

Onute Staniszkiene, director of the Institute for International Relations of the WiLASz, comments: "I agree with Sacz that this is an important first step. But it won't be easy for Kotau. First of all, he will have to cope with a huge anti-Western minority in parliament. For each reform he will try to carry out, he will need to deliver a major fight, both with his opponents and with the post-snorists who occupy key positions in every layer of political and economical life. Secondly, the economy is in such a disastrous state, that whatever reform – no matter how necessary – will cost him lots and lots of support among the people. In other words, no matter how successful he will be, there is always the danger of a return to old practices in case Kotau won't survive the next elections. This is exactly what happened in Latvia. In short, I think we need to provide Kotau with all the support we can give to him - although full membership of the Baltic League surely is not an option. This is exactly what I told Piniatyk, too."