Grybauskaite defends Belarus policy

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President Dalia Grybauskaite has defended her stance towards Belarus from criticism from former President Valdas Adamkus, who called the current policy a “disaster.”

Grybauskaite has spent much of her term opening dialogue with neighbouring Belarus and its leader President Aleksandr Lukashenko. In doing so she has attracted criticism from those within the country who say that she is supporting Lukashenko, who is regarded by the west as Europe’s last dictator.

Opening dialogue, not isolating the country, will lead to democracy, the president believes.

“The steps that have been taken during the tenure of the current president, the first contacts have enabled at least some small steps toward democratization,” Linas Balsys, Grybauskaite’s spokesman was quoted as saying by Noviny.by, a Belarusian news portal.

Adamkus’ criticism of the current administration’s stance is unfair, Balsys said.

“Are the continuation of assistance to European Humanities University and the successful engagement of donors worthy of such words?” Mr. Balsis said. “Is the constant assistance to the opposition worthy of such words? Are our 40 long-term and four short-term [election] observers worthy of such words? I don’t know. Attempts to establish contacts and step up dialogue with Minsk are the common opinion of the EU,” he said.

In an address to EU ambassadors to Lithuania in November, Grybauskaite reportedly called Lukashenko the “guarantor” of Belarus’ stability and independence, described Belarus’ opposition as weak and said that Lukashenko could gain 99 percent of the vote in the Dec. 19 presidential election.

Adamkus said that Lithuania “tried to please Alyaksandr Lukashenka and overdid it.”

“We have simply become a laughing stock. Our foreign policy toward Belarus has become a disaster,” he said.

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