Ales Bialiatski: Ukraine showed that “unreal scenarios” can become real in no time
Human rights defender Ales Bialiatski takes part in the international conference Forum 2000 in Prague that gathers politicians and civil society leaders from democratic countries and the states with human rights violations. Ales Bialiatski visited the office of Radio Svaboda yesterday.
– Ales, what did you speak about at the opening of the forum?
– I laid emphasis on several issues, above all on the current political situation in Belarus. I noted that the release of political prisoners was a good signal, but it didn't mean that the policy of the Belarusian authorities had changed significantly. It is regarded just as a concession to international pressure and public activity inside Belarus. Finally, such a clear and principled position brought results and political prisoners were released. I also said that the regime greatly depended on Russia, and that a threat to Belarus's independence hadn't disappeared. Moreover, it has increased lately, because Russian imperialism raises its head, and the nature of imperialism requires next steps. The question arises after the war in Georgia, the war in Donbas and the annexation of Crimea: who will be the next? I don't want Belarus to be the next.
– The problem that is in the focus of Europe now – a huge wave of migrants from the war-hit Middle Eastern countries – was discussed at the conference.
– I'll say what I personally think, because opinions on the issue remained polarised at the forum. I think we meet the wave of migrants as something secondary, which is a consequence of the difficult situation caused by the war in the countries near the EU borders. We again see that the EU foreign policy is far from being perfect. It doesn't respond quickly to modern challenges. It also concerns the civil war in Syria that has grown into the international one. A half step was made, but a full step to decisively settle the situation in Syria wasn't made. The inconsistency and weakness of the foreign policy made the situation in Syria look so terrible. People there can't live calmly, because they can be killed. The wave of migrants is the result of the EU weak foreign policy.
As for migrants, I understand them and sympathise with the people who have found themselves in a hopeless situation. I must say that we, Belarusians, also had historical periods when we were in difficult situations. Millions of Belarusians had to leave the country, as it happened during WWI. We had other tragic events when people really needed help. I understand the situation. I don't see any big cultural differences between Europeans and Syrians, who are a quite cultural nation at the normal level of development if we compare them to European nations.
Nevertheless, the Syrian issue requires a solution. Moreover, Syria has shown that similar events can happen in any territories and in any countries near the EU. Ukraine is our “Slavic Syria”, finally. We have more than 2 million refuges. Some of them have moved to other Ukrainian regions, and half of them have moved to other countries of the world, including 100,000 refuges in Belarus. These are absolutely real scenarios if severe big conflicts arouse in Ukraine, Belarus and other post-Soviet countries, the possibility that cannot be ruled out in the future. Ukraine showed that “unreal scenarios” can become real in no time.