• basty akparat
  • 20 Тамыз, 2020

Mr. Lukashenko’s controversies with regard to Kazakhstan

Presidential elections were held in Belorussia on Sunday, 9 August 2020. Early voting began on 4 August and ran until 8 August. The president was elected directly to serve for five years. Incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected to run for a sixth term in office with 80.23 percent of the vote. Everything went as expected.

 

Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev on behalf of the people of Kazakhstan and his own behalf congratulated Alexander Lukashenko on his re-election as president of the Republic of Belorussia.

‘The results of the elections that took place in the difficult political situation show the people’s support of your strategic course aiming for the strengthening of sovereignty and independence of Belorussia’,  the message said.

Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev expressed confidence that mutually beneficial cooperation between Kazakhstan and Belorussia will continue to develop successfully for the benefit of the peoples of the two states.

Kazakhstan’s president wished Alexander Lukashenko full implementation of all his plans as head of the Republic of Belorussia and peace, stability, mutual understanding and prosperity to the people of Belorussia.

Last month while on visit in Minsk in order to take part in a session of the Eurasian intergovernmental commission, prime minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin met with president of the Republic of Belorussia Alexander Lukashenko.

‘I just want to assure you that we will remain unswervingly committed to the goals we have set while hosting Nursultan Abishevich (Nazarbayev) and Kassym-Zhomart (Kemelevich) Tokayev. We will certainly do everything that’s expected of us. If the Kazakh government sticks to the same approach, we for our part will always take the most positive steps. We want to have good relations with Kazakhstan, primarily economic ones. Because this is a basic foundation of bilateral relationship’, the Belorussian leader said.

He noted there were no problems in our two countries’ political relationship.

‘There are no problems with bilateral economical relations either. But the kind of trade we’re now dealing with is well below our economies’ potential. That is particularly the case for Kazakhstan. What we produce is needed in Kazakhstan. What you produce is similarly needed in our country. Yet there are certain problems - with supplies, logistics. However I think it may be said with certainty that we, with the current prime minister and the new government of Russia, can do a lot, including within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union’, Alexander Lukashenko said.

We in Kazakhstan do remember him already saying something similar about our nation’s importance for his country a quite less than two years ago. At that time he hosted Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, who was then the Senate speaker. While receiving his guest, Alexander Lukashenko noted Kazakhstan was a strategic and reliable partner.

Concerning the status of relations between Belorussia and Kazakhstan, A. Lukashenko indicated that there was no particular need to reiterate their being developed at the highest level. According to him, that is self-evident.

«These are relationships between close states. We will always adhere to this policy. We have very friendly relations with your president. We have learned a lot from each other. We have picked up a lot from you (over the years), particularly in the sphere of law. We have borrowed many good norm setting practices from the Kazakhstani experience, especially during the early stages of my presidency and while creating our Constitution», Belorussian president said.

«The growth of trade looks pretty good – it is approximately 40 per cent. But frankly, this is less than what we might have expected with regard to bilateral trade relations between Kazakhstan and Belorussia... We will seek to develop the closest and most friendly relations with you. You are a very promising, strategic and reliable partner for Belorussia», he added.

When one hears such words from Alexander Lukashenko’s lips, he might reasonably wonder how seriously they should be taken. As it seemed that his assessments of this or that country, this or that state leader can vary over a wide range «from completely unfavorable to completely favorable» depending on how much the current policy of this or that country and this or that leader is acceptable with regard to the Belorussian economic interests.

When the growth of trade ‘looks pretty good - it is approximately 40 per cent’, it apparently seems appropriate to sing the praises of Kazakhstan and its leader. The tone and content of rhetoric would probably have been completely different, if it wasn’t so. As the saying goes, ‘no word of a song can be dropped’. Nowadays the Belorussian leader lavishes praise on Kazakhstan and its government.

But there was a time when he expressed a completely different opinion about them. Over ten years ago, president of Belorussia Alexander Lukashenko while he was being interviewed by the editor-in-chief of the Russian newspaper Zavtra, Alexander Prokhanov, colored Kazakhstan in such an unflattering light that it seemed good relations between the two post-Soviet republics would shortly come to an end.

The interview entitled ‘It hurt ... I’m looking for a way out’ was published in the aforementioned weekly on February 14, 2007.  And these are the words he then said: ‘Kazakhstan today has given all its natural resources to transnational corporations, primarily American ones. The Russians have been definitively squeezed out of the country. Russia has no business being there. There is not a single Russian company up there. And the air defense forces of Kazakhstan are currently in the process of installing American-made systems. Whose interests is all this serving? Kazakhstan does not behave like Belorussia. Its actions pose a threat to the invulnerability of Russia’s missile defense. There is no secret, but you keep quiet. How can you pull Kazakhstan close? They pursue an independent policy and position themselves as a regional leader».

How are we supposed to figure out what’s true and what he made up? And what is the explanation for those contradictory assessments concerning Kazakhstan?

There is a wise folk saying: existence influences the consciousness. Why was Alexander Lukashenko being very much dissatisfied with Kazakhstan in 2007, and why has he been quite satisfied with our country recently? The answer is likely to be the simplest thing. Before the advent of the Customs Union in 2010, Kazakhstan’s imports from Belorussia were quite small. The situation has changed substantially over the last decade. With the advent of that union, imports to Kazakhstan from Belorussia began to sharply increase, whereas exports from here to there have been remaining practically unaffected by the change. Here’s what it looks like. The emergence of the Customs Union did not greatly change the position of Russia and Belorussia in the export structure of Kazakhstan, but rather strongly influenced the structure of imports to our country.

In 2018, the trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Belorussia amounted to US$896 million, and in 2019 it continued to grow, increasing by 9.2% compared with the previous year. So what does it mean? Not something to be proud of. Kazakhstan exported over US$154.9 million’s worth of goods in 2019 to Belorussia, which is 38% more than in 2018. At the same time, imports to Kazakhstan from Belorussia increased by 5.1% reaching US$823.5 million. In this case, our country recorded a trade deficit of US$668.6 million. No comments are needed here, as the figures speak for themselves: with the advent of the Customs Union, Kazakhstan opened its market very widely to the Belorussian goods and services and is expected to go even further in that direction. This is the kind of Kazakhstan that Belorussia needs most.

A general presumption prevalent among economists and policy makers is that the so-called Belorussian miracle occurred due to integration with Russia. That does seem to be the case. The model of the Belorussian miracle, allowing Lukashenko to fulfill his social contract with Belorussians was built with dependence on the Russian market, subsidies and credits. Yet it should also be said the Republic of Kazakhstan too did what it could to contribute to that end. But this is something he does not like to talk about.

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