WASHINGTON – Although the Belarusian people chose East over West by re-electing their pro-Russian president last month,Ambassador Mikhail Khvostov said Thursday that his government is ready to resume “full-scale dialogue” with the U.S. and European Union.
In a news conference,Khvostov,Belarus' ambassador to the U.S. and Mexico,said that Western Europe's Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitored the elections and didn't recognize them.
He said the EU and the U.S. were prejudiced that the elections would be fradulent long before they took place. The U.S. and EU supported opposition candidates Alexander Milinkevich and Alexander Kozulin,he said,“They didn't hide their political preferences.”
“We will never have elections on someone's instructions,” the diplomat said.
Khvostov said observers from Commonwealth of Independent States,made up of most former Soviet republics,had a completely opposite opinion,finding the election results transparent and credible.
Lukashenko won the election with almost 83 percent of the vote. His closest opponent,Alexander Milinkevich,got 6 percent. Voter turnout was 93 percent.
He also recalled elections in Georgia where President Mikhail Saakashvili got 97 percent of the votes,and Kyrgyzstan where President Kurmanbek Bakiev got 89 percent. He said neither the U.S. nor the EU doubted credibility of those results.
The U.S. State Department put out a press statement on its Web site called “Fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus” the day the election results were available. It said the United States “cannot accept as legitimate the election results,” and that the U.S. “is preparing to take serious,appropriate measures against those officials responsible for election fraud and other human rights abuses.”
Khvostov said that when White House press secretary Scott McClellan was denouncing protesters' arrests in Belarus police were arresting anti-war protesters in the United States.
“Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions; it guarantees equality of opportunities,” Khvostov said.
Khvostov said the U.S. policy to isolate Belarus “is not right.”
Asked to explain the U.S. foreign policy – taking actions to punish Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko for alleged human rights abuses while being friendly with some Central Asian leaders whose rule is much harsher – Khvostov said it is a policy of “double standards.”
“One of the reasons is Lukashenko's pro-Russian policy,” Khvostov said.
It is not a secret that the West and Russia are battling over post-Soviet countries,and the diplomat said the people of Belarus have chosen Russia as it is “our strategic partner,neighbor,ally and the defender of our sovereignty.”
“For Russia,Belarus is trade partner number two after Germany,” Khvostov said,adding that the trade volume between two countries is $16 billion.