It is “time for change to come to Belarus”, the “last true dictatorship” in central Europe, according to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The leaders of Belarus beg to differ.
During her visit to Lithuania on 20 April, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the former Soviet republic of Belarus as “the last remaining true dictatorship in the heart of Europe”, and said that it was commendable for people to “throw off the yoke of tyranny”.
In an angrily-worded reaction, Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov said that the future of the country would be “determined by the nation’s people” and not Rice. On 19 April, Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko said in his state of the nation speech that he would take firm action against those who seek to undermine him.
He said that there would be “no coloured revolutions” in his country. “All these coloured revolutions are pure and simple banditry,” he said, referring, among others, to Ukraine’s so-called ‘orange revolution’.
In March 2005, Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that “we [the EU] want to have close relations with all of our neighbours, and that includes Belarus”. The mechanism for achieving this is the European Neighbourhood Policy.