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BISR analyst Olga Lazorkina on political outcomes of the year and efforts of Belarus to preserve peace

«This is called a direct hit to the nerve of global agenda»

Olga Lazorkina, analyst at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, speaks with Selskaya Gazeta (eng. - Rural Newspaper) columnist about foreign policy activity of Belarus, the club of its friends, and the ideological foundations of economic conflicts.

— Olga, if we sum up the results of the passing year, is there any ground for optimism, or has the world taken another step towards global escalation, and the civilizational rift between West and East, Anglosaxonism and Slavs is irrestible?

Ольга Лазоркина

— The 1945 completed the world military conflict, but there are still many pain spots that continue to generate regional conflicts. We used to assess the world order as stable and planned our future with different horizons. Today we see that is has exhausted, expired itself in many ways. The pandemic tore the masks from those processes that were raging inside the world body.

Civilizational rifts do not occur spontaneously, conditions must be created for them. We were consistently prepared for them, reinforcing the idea that a collision was inevitable. But we need to ask the question, who are we dealing with in the West, philosophers or hardened businessmen? The answer is clear. Large-scale plans for economic restructuring (the sensational green transition) require huge financial investments, and China's economic transformation forces it to accelerate the strengthening of its own industrial sector, especially in terms of high-tech industries. Therefore, money comes first. And this requires resources, preferably cheap ones.

The ideological basis is extremely important for another expropriation. Therefore, on the forefront is the struggle of democracies against authoritarianism, civilizational rifts, Anglosaxons and Slavs. In reality, these are narratives artificially created by Western political elites, which are based on the phantom pains of individual countries. Sharp plots of confrontation are extracted from the depths of history, extermination of people during the two wars is presented as a struggle for freedom.

— In general, have historians and political scientists noticed the moment when the first attempt was made to undermine the foundations of international security? Who did it and why?

— In 1999, our region entered a new phase. On March 12, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary became members of the military-political alliance — NATO. This meant that, apart from political disagreements, a bloc that relies on military power has fortified on the borders of our country. And already on March 24, the NATO started bombing of Yugoslavia. The historiography of the United States called it "Noble Anvil." Not only Serbian cities but the United Nations itself was under the blows of the Western hammer . The first testing of forces was successful, today we see a continuation.

The current US President Biden was the most active participant in those events. His words can be considered a concentrate of the ideology of the collective West. "Why some of you ask have I been so relentless on Serbia? Why have I been so persistent in not providing aid to the people of Serbia? Because until they look in their hearts they can never cure themselves of the disease that they are the oppressed. And as long as they operate on that standard, this cycle will continue."

— When superpowers enter the clinch, the fate of the little ones caught in the these conflicts is unenviable. Belarus, both historically and geographically, is at the forefront of such a confrontation. But we are standing tall, no foreign boot tramples our land. What is the main thing here, in preserving our sovereignty?

— Self-sufficiency and expanding partnership. The stability of the economy and society directly depends on the resilience of critical infrastructure. In the current conditions, it is important not only to foresee and prevent threats to the state, but also to create conditions to adapt promptly to the changing external environment. Today is the time for non-standard solutions, but on a national basis. Technological dependence on other countries plays a serious deterrent role. Therefore, many states are reviewing their strategies, focusing on human capital and innovation. Of course, this is a long process, but you can't delay the beginning .

For medium and small-sized countries, this task is even more difficult, since such transformation requires significant financial investments. However, there are always countries in the world that can become potential partners. Alexander ¬¬Lukashenko's touring in December showed that our country has a serious foundation and obvious prospects for successfully solving economic problems in a variety of areas.

— Agree, there is a lot of talk about the global isolation of Belarus. But at the international summit in the UAE, our President is in the first row of world politicians, talking freely his colleagues, paying no attention to the stupidest demarches of individual countries. By the way, how would you comment on the fact that there were only three such naives and all of them are our neighbors?

— Isolation of any country is impossible in the current conditions. We focus too much on the regional agenda. The world is huge, and the opinion of our neighbors is just a drop in the ocean of international problems. The demarche in the UAE was a small, insignificant episode that few people paid attention to.

The warm welcome of the Belarusian President at the Dubai summit is easily explained. First of all, organizers and most of the leaders of right-minded countries knew perfectly well that the leader of the state would come, who would not hesitate to propose initiatives. Everyone is tired of the empty talk that the West has made a thing of any international event. The speech of Alexander Lukashenko was distinguished by sincerity, genuine interest in world affairs and sharpness in judgments. Finally, our country has many partners who know and appreciate Belarus as a responsible member of all important international structures.

— Several years ago, our President introduced the term "far arc", talking about diversification of food supplies, 30 percent of which should go to the countries of the Middle East. Can we say that the purely economic aspect has now turned into a political one, that Belarus is joining — and if so, why — the the global South club?

— A few years ago, it was really more about the economic aspect. But today the situation has changed dramatically. All regions have set in motion, and it is the political context that has taken priority positions. The Global South concerns are constantly growing. Everyone can see perfectly well that the notorious Western rules are pushing the world community into chaos and confrontation. For the sake of immediate political benefits, logistics is being destroyed, infrastructure facilities are exploding. Amid this, the countries of the global South consider it necessary to interfere and take control of the situation.

And if we are talking about a club, then this is a community of co-thinkers who understand that it is impossible to destroy the existing system and build a new one on its basis within a short period. In addition, many countries absolutely do not believe that the existing system is so imperfect. This is another idea that the West is trying to instill in us with all its might, because it has ceased to be effective in terms of pumping out resources and political subordination.

Belarus and the global majority do not intend to abandon the UN system in favor of the West. It is not their patrimony, but the result of a common titanic work. Therefore, we will try to preserve its most important tools.

— Continuing with the East, you know better than me how important here are gestures and meanings, not words. I mean, during the visit to the summit, it was our President, not Steinmeier, who was met right at the plane by one of the country's leaders, and the head of the UAE held talks with him in a family format. What does this mean and how to interpret it?

— Belarus has done a lot to achieve such results. In the UAE and the region as a whole, our country is not a newcomer, but a partner with a stable business reputation. And of course, personal sympathy plays a very significant role in the relationship between leaders. But this requires the convergence of views, understanding of the partner's interests, the ability to respect and share a different viewpoint.

Representatives of the West have one fatal problem: they are convinced that their measurements are the most correct. Narcissism and arrogance are cured just by the iconic expectation of meeting on the plane.

— And a bit more about the East, but this time Far East, or more precisely, China. I want to understand why the leader of an immense, let's say, empire, China, is so interested in the leader of a regional power that he negotiates with him for four whole hours instead of one, as had been scheduled? Yes, Xi Jinping and Alexander Lukashenko have long-standing ties of friendship, but, as they say, time is money…

— No doubt, China is a great power, incomparable in resources with Belarus. Meanwhile, we forget about the great work the Chinese have done to reach such heights. This is what we have in common with China — our ability to work and perseverance in any circumstances.

Historically, our countries have gone through a very difficult path. China and Belarus have paid a high price for independence and the opportunity to build nation-states. It is simply of great importance that the leader of China is known as a person who understands the needs of an ordinary Chinese. His childhood and youth were spent in simple conditions, without frills, but in an effort, as we say, to get out into people.

Therefore, four hours from a protocol standpoint is a lot, but life is a moment. Not so often we meet people to talk heart-to-heart. Especially among the leaders of the states.

And I would conclude this thought with a quote from Xi Jinping: "We must respect each other and respect the principle of equality in bilateral relations, respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the path of development chosen by each side." This is our formula for mutual understanding, simple and understandable to everyone.

— Whether it was a coincidence, or it was planned, but it happened so that our leader opened the year 2023 with Africa, having made a state visit to Zimbabwe in January, and closed it with Africa, having recently completed a large tour of the continent. And this is in Africa, where the white man remains the personification of evil to this day, Alexander Lukashenko is called a brother and friend and they are ready for the widest and most extensive cooperation. Why is that?

This is called a direct hit to the nerve of global agenda" It is in these regions that the multilateralism that we talk about so much is being built. In the depths of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, the contours of a new world order are being searched. Belarus is currently in the midst of events that will turn the page of history.

To build the UN system, it took two world wars. And every day there are more and more people who understand that it must not be repeated. Belarus, in fact, offers smart measures as opposed to smart sanctions. Our task is to create such mechanisms that will enable performing a high-quality correction of mistakes and ensuring a stable future for our descendants.

Belarus' partners on different continents see that we have not only ideas, but also the determination to take responsibility for their implementation. Therefore, readiness for a large-scale dialogue is the focus of evaluating our efforts.

— Summing up our conversation, I would conclude the following: the world is big and Belarus has its place in this world, it occupies it rightful honorable place among peoples; its voice in favor of peace, good-neighborliness, universal respect sounds confident and loud. But do you think the time will come when there will be more those who hear than those who are deaf, and it will be the first ones to decide the fate of the world?

— Belarus has always been a worthy member of the world community. No information campaigns can destroy our reputation as the most peaceful people. The time of those who hear will come, it is inevitable. But our counter-partners are captured by their own ambitions and permissiveness. Therefore, it's going to take our time. We can do this, we have a lot of experience, a global vision, a commitment toward the future and the majority of the world.

— Thank you, Olga, for the interesting conversation, I hope we will continue it next year. Happy New Year to you!

— Thank you, and I wish loyal readers and creative success to Selskaya Gazeta.