May 29th, 2015

nuclear

Выступление Рудольфа Ришара в белорусском кругу по итогам саммита Восточного партнерства ЕС в Риге

Официально это звучит так: "Временный поверенный в делах представительства Европейского союза в Беларуси Рудольф Ришар на конференции Белорусского института стратегических исследований "Минск после Риги: форум о реформах, или как Беларуси адаптироваться и развиваться в новых региональных контекстах".

Прощальная публичная речь очень хорошего дипломата.

Редкий дипломат на моих глазах за несколько лет достигал того, чего достиг Рудольф. Он приехал в страну, в момент такого сильного обострения отношений с Западом, когда из Беларуси уехали все послы стран ЕС, а посольство США было сведено с 45 человек до 5 и осталось без посла. А уезжает сейчас, оставляя страну, куда приезжают высшие руководители ЕС и России решать самые важные проблемы всей Европы.

Он приехал, когда достиг максимума радикализм белорусской оппозиции и тех весьма своеобразных кругов, которые тогда стояли за ее спиной. Тогда был вообще весь джентльменский набор для большого кризиса: попытка штурма правительственных зданий, случились терракты, валюта рухнула в несколько раз. На отъезде - радикалы в оппозиции куда-то словно исчезли, новые люди там работают на нормализацию отношений государства и ЕС.

Даже его опыт работы в Шанхае по экономическому блоку оказался в Беларуси актуален, как, наверное, нигде больше в Европе. Китайско-белорусский-индустриальный парк возник как проект как раз в годы пребывания Рудольфа у нас.

Ну, и главное: не может не вызвать уважения дипломат, кредо которого: "Я служу французскому государству, а не партиям или группам. По такому принципу теперь служу и Европейскому Союзу". Где-то мы это уже слышали применительно к другим странам от других отличных дипломатов :)

Не надо кидать в меня тапками: я понимаю, что дипломатия - это всегда не один человек и что все сделанное, сделано не только Рудольфом. Но вклад в общее дело у всех разный. У Рудольфа он был огромным. Пришла реальная профессиональная французская дипломатия и школа себя показала мгновенно...

Удачи в Брюсселе, Рудольф. Жаль, что тебе по статусу было неуместно выступать чаще с публичными речами. Это - то, чего не хватило....

***

Your Excellencies, estimated colleagues, dear friends,

I fear I will neither be short, nor original, but, since I am leaving soon and this might be my last opportunity to talk, I will use it.
I thank the colleagues who talked just before me, particularly the Ambassador of Latvia who delivered an extensive description of the Riga summit, so that I will be exempted from talking about that. I might nevertheless refer to and go deeper into some of the points already raised.
Belarus in geopolitical context, this is always a difficult question, and not only for me, I guess.
What could I say?
- The EU is interested in improving relations
- The EU is a provider of sustainable growth and development – because it relies on sustainable values and principles
- The EU is a reliable, predictable partner
- Our relations are slowly improving; the level of mutual mistrust tends to decrease: the policy of small steps is working, and producing sustainability. Evidence of that: these steps are more and more visible.
- That is not easy; it requires a lot of efforts on both sides to convince everybody that this is the right approach.
- From the regional point of view: the EU appreciates the Belarusian position on the regional situation and the fgact that Minsk has become a platform for talks.
- At the same time, we have noticed what President Lukashenka said: if needed, Belarus will put his shoulder to its Russian ally.
- It is difficult in this context not to see what happened in Riga and before: Russia is not a member of the Eastern Partnership, but it was present. All the issues related to the Russian involvement and action in the region have generated difficult discussions.
- As it was said, Belarus is at a crossroads, and this is not new, but it might not be comfortable to do the splits during a long time. We understand that.
- This is an additional fact to how it seems necessary to have, like President Tusk said, a different approach to different countries. I do not even talk about reforms and agreements with the EU…
- More globally, we have undertaken the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy and related consultations, including in Belarus.
- At this stage, I would retain only one thesis from these consultations because it emerged in all the meetings we had: "the search, definition and strengthening of points of contact between the EU and Belarus"

After this introduction, I will have five points, which are linked to each other.

1/ This allows me to focus on Belarus and the EU
- "The search, definition and strengthening of points of contact between the EU and Belarus". What does it mean? Several things
- Connexions, bridges, mutual understanding; their intensity can vary
- This creates some sustainability and stability in the relations
- That is fine. But this also means that nobody really believes that the positions of partners will change, because Belarus might not be willing to change its internal order, and because the EU is value-based and considers that Belarus, as European country, has to respect minimal principles.
2/ On reforms: linked to 1/
- I see these points of contacts as embryos of future reforms that Belarus needs.
- This is the topic of the seminar, we should not forget about it!
- The EU can help and I want to believe that Belarus has the potential to hold and introduce these reforms.
- Here, there is no hidden agenda, nobody wants to conquer the country or the economy;
- Our purpose is to strengthen the national capabilities which will ensure the strengthening of Belarusian sovereignty.

3/ On civil society: linked to 2/
- We see the important role of the civil society. Why? Because we believe in citizens who organise themselves as a society and who take part in the life or their country.
- Here 2 remarks:
- I do not speak about "obschestvennost", but about society, civil society.
- As I said, we believe in citizens. This does not mean at all that we do not believe in the state and its structures. In our countries, state and state structures exist, work and manage our countries, but the civil society is there as a clock, an engine, a factory of ideas.
- In the same vein, I would say that we believe in SMEs. This does not mean at all that we do not believe in big groups and SOEs. Just we believe that they are complementary to each other, and that SMEs are a source of progress, growth, employment, innovation. (By the way, this is also the case in Belarus).

4/ On our differences: linked to 3/
- From these two small examples, we see that not only approaches, but understanding of concepts differ. If we start working on that, many more nuances will appear. It might be worth it…
- What is to be done?
- Of course, to answer to Chernishevsky's question, I could borrow the nice formula from Martin Luther King: "I have a dream". I have a dream that one day, Belarus will be a democratic country, with full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and market economy.
- Dreaming is nice. But this should be accompanied by a share of realism. We are neighbours and we cannot escape it. In this regard I cannot share the opinion of those who question the existence of the EU as an organisation in the next 5, 10, 15 years. I speak here more as a citizen than as a diplomat.
- Other and others' dreams cannot save us. We have to work together, with concrete goals, on concrete issues, but we have to take into account our realities.
- This means that we have to understand that we live in different spheres: the sphere of power, on the one side, and the sphere of values, on the other side. This conditions strongly our vision of ourselves and the world around us, including the neighbours.
- Against this background, it might be good to have a reflexion on that. It would be also good not to raise unduly expectations.
- Then, maybe we will be able to have more relaxed relations, and more interconnexions; one day, maybe we will be able at least to start talking the same language, meaning put the same concepts behind the words we use.

5/ On our common potential
- Potential in our relations and what the EU could do together with Belarus is comparable to the potential that exists in BY: enormous!
- This is already a substantial progress
- For that we have to work towards the normalisation of relations, but obstacles – existence of political prisoners, human rights situation – remain so far.

Thank you for attention