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Belarussian ambassador to the EU talks to Euronews ahead of the presidential election

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Belarussian ambassador to the EU talks to Euronews ahead of the presidential election

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With a presidential election taking place this weekend in Belarus, Euronews has been speaking with Vladimir Senko, the country’s ambassador to the European Union

There will be close international scrutiny for the polling. President Alexandre Lukashenko enjoys genuine support from older voters and in the rural sectors of the country, but the European Union has complained about the treatment of his political opponents, some of whom have been arrested.

Western governments have warned Lukashenko of economic sanctions if the elections are not conducted fairly.

Euronews:
Mr Ambassador, in the run-up to the presidential elections, what is your assessment of the situation in Belarus, is it calm, is there nervousness or is there revolution in the air?

Vladimir Senko:
Admittedly the situation in Belarus is difficult because of the elections. But I want to stress that in general there is a calm and stable atmosphere. In spite of the geopolitical situation caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, I would like to say that Belarus is the only country of the former USSR whose economy has made constant progress in the period of crisis that followed the collapse of the USSR. The standard of living of the people has improved. That is most important. I think that in this difficult pre-election period, the most important thing is that President Alexandre Lukashenko does enjoy strong popular support. That is logical, the majority of people have absolute confidence in him because of the social and economic policies adopted in the last few years.

Euronews:
You are the Belarus’ ambassador to Belgium and NATO and the EU, how are relations and dialogue between your country and Europe.

Vladimir Senko:
Our relations with the EU are not easy, but that is not of our doing. We have every interest in a relationship of equals, which is to the advantage of both sides, and that’s natural. Our policy is that we are willing to develop our relations with the EU, but on the basis that we are equal partners. The EU must not interfere in our internal affairs and must not dictate to us the model for development of our country, what we must do or how we should live.

Euronews:
In Belarus and everywhere, the outcome of the election is pretty much considered to be a foregone conclusion. But let us suppose that Lukashenko is not the winner. What do you think about that?

Euronews:
Vladimir Senko:
I don’t want to predict the future. Any presidential or legislative election campaign can produce surprises. That could happen to us, but I am absolutely sure that any surprise would not change the real situation. That’s because the people are positive about our economic and social programmes. They know that there’s no corruption in our government. Everyone is calm. For that reason, we shouldn’t talk about surprises that could radically change the situation.

Euronews:
Could there be protests against the election result?

Vladimir Senko:
I don’t exclude the possibility that the opposition could try to create mass disorder, but if that happens, it is very important that the opposition acts responsibly and does everything within the framework of the country’s constitution and the law.

Euronews:
What do you think about Moscow’s support for the Belarus government?

Vladimir Senko:
It is true that Russia is an ally. But in the course of this election campaign, the Russian authorities have not intervened and have not backed any candidate directly. Russia does not interfere in our internal political affairs.

Euronews:
Can you tell me why RTR, Russian public television, has been banned from covering the elections in Belarus.

Vladimir Senko:
To tell the truth, I do not have any information on that. If that is the case, there must be a valid reason.

Euronews:
So would journalists from Euronews be given permission to cover the elections?

Vladimir Senko:
Why would we be against that? Euronews is widely broadcast in Belarus. It is very popular.

Mister ambassador, thank you.

Thank you.