Merkel Breaks the Ice with Phone Call to Lukashenko
Nov. 16, 2021 (EIRNS)—Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a 50-minute phone call with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko yesterday, discussing a proposal (not specified in the news reports) by Lukashenko for the de-escalation of the refugee situation at the Polish-Belarusian border. The two leaders also discussed ways of having humanitarian aid reach the refugees. Both said they will talk again soon.
Merkel’s initiative stirred up the radical pro-sanctions camp in German politics. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, former Green Party MP Omid Nouripur spoke of a “devastating signal” and accused Merkel of departing from EU solidarity by de facto recognizing Lukashenko as President with her phone call. The EU does not recognize that Lukashenko won the Aug. 9, 2020 elections, against opposition new-comer Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whom polls showed with 10% of the vote. Proclaiming herself the winner, she fled Belarus for Vilnius by Aug. 10.
At a Nov. 15 event sponsored by the Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD), generally expected to become the next German Chancellor, made a geopolitical show of demanding “clear and harsh sanctions” against Lukashenko, whom he charged with being “a really bad dictator,” and having no legitimacy whatsoever. Scholz called for European support for the “democratic process” in Belarus, warning EU leaders against playing by the rules of Lukashenko and the “human traffickers.”