Source Pravda.Ru

Belarus and Ukraine, Russia Awaits

Russian Foreign Minister: “Let it be on the conscience of the country that rejected the visa.”
Yesterday, it became perfectly clear that NATO refused to invite Ukraine and Belarus to its summit in Prague. A high-ranking source in the NATO headquarters told that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma “received no official invitation to the Prague summit.” He added at that, “it would be better for both sides to avoid conflicts during the summit.” And the source means that the Ukrainian president’s visit to Prague was actually a problem. The notorious Kolchuga radar systems (Ukraine is accused of selling these systems to Iraq) are a stumbling block in relations between Kiev and the West. PRAVDA.Ru reported about the Kolchuga systems several times already. That is why the NATO headquarters stresses it would be unreasonable for Leonid Kuchma to come to Prague.

In addition, last week, the Czech authorities refused an entry visa to Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, who also wanted to participate in the summit. At that, the reason for the refusal wasn’t clearly explained; it was just mentioned that “human rights and democratic freedoms were violated in Belarus.” The other day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ivanov voiced Russia’s critical opinion on the situation; he said that the decision of the Czech authorities to refuse an entry visa to Alexander Lukashenko looked like remains of the past, and that problems of this kind should be settled in a dialogue. At the same time, the Russian foreign minister said in an interview to the Rossiya television that there was no need to stand up for Lukashenko, “let it be on the conscience of the country that rejected the visa.”

It is likely that Russia will soon have to define its priorities. The British mass media informed that the European Union is going to ban entry to the EU member countries and even those that aspire to EU membership for Alexander Lukashenko and members of the Belarus government. The ban might be approved by foreign ministers of the EU countries at tomorrow’s meeting already. Belarus, in its turn, isn’t going to go back on its words and indulge the demands of “civilized Europe.” In any case, after the decision of the Czech authorities, the comment made by Belarus indicates that the deed will be paid for.

Today, chairman of the Russian Duma Gennady Seleznev is leaving for a visit to Minsk, the capital of Belarus. According to the Russian television, the main purpose of the visit is to discuss supplies of Russian gas with the Belarus president.

We have information that Gennady Seleznev and Alexander Lukashenko will discuss other issues, not only the “harmless gas problem.” The Russian-Belarus Union State should more actively coordinate activity of its members and foreign policy.

The media commented upon the situation the following way:

November 18: The attack of the West on Leonid Kuchma, as expected, forces the Ukrainian president closer to Russia. The Russian news source Strana.ru reported that Kuchma told journalists on Friday that he was going to visit Moscow to have supper with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin. He added: “To be more serious, we have problems to discuss.” Officially, the visit of the Ukrainian president to Moscow is connected with creation of a Russia-Ukraine gas project; however, the agenda of the meeting is bigger and connected with the possibility to re-orient Ukraine’s foreign policy with the Russian Federation. In fact, the West leaves no choice for Kuchma, as it is already decided to replace the loyal Ukraine president with a direct protege of the West, Viktor Yushchenko. It is easy to guess what Leonid Kuchma will prefer in this situation, the Hague Tribunal or friendship with Russia?

November 16: President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko was officially refused an entry visa to the Czech republic. To make good his promise to open a corridor to Europe for illegal immigrants, Alexander Luksahenko immediately visited a Chechen refugee family that failed to receive a Shengen visa; he promised to help them. To substantiate the seriousness of his intention, Alexander Lukashenko became a Godfather of a Chechen newly born girl; he himself gave her a traditional Belarus name, Olesya. Lukashenko’s suggestion to resettle all Chechens to Europe must satisfy all the parties involved. Europe will take care of a million of Chechens on its territory, observe their rights and freedoms, and provide unlimited humanitarian aid. The Chechen people will avoid genocide in this case, and Russia will have peaceful Caucasus and a strong destabilizing factor in the camp of a probable geopolitical rival (Nasha-rodina.Ru reports).

Segrey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://politics.pravda.ru/politics/2002/1/1/5/3078_Minsk.html

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