Minsk, June 26 (Interfax) - A gas dispute with Russia will not prompt Belarus to change priorities in its foreign policy, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said.
"Big-time politics does not tolerate any turnarounds, not to mention sharp ones," Lukashenko said in an interview shown on EuroNews TV channel on Friday.
"Second, let's be objective: is anyone waiting for us in Europe? Nobody is waiting for us in Europe. Europe has so many problems with these 27 countries that they don't care too much about Belarus, or Ukraine, or other countries today," he said.
Lukashenko emphasized Belarus's desire to be independent. "We will not turn anywhere or turn around, we will stay on our piece of land, and we will live here without causing problems to our neighbors. And our neighbors are Russia on the one side and the European Union on the other," he said.
The gas dispute served as a pretext for Russia to apply political pressure on Belarus, Lukashenko said. "Gas was only a pretext," he said.
There were no reasons for a gas conflict as such, as Gazprom's debt to Belarus for gas transit was significantly higher than Belarus's debt for gas deliveries, he said.
"They [Russia] are eyeing state property that has not yet been privatized in Belarus, and they want to get it on the cheap," Lukashenko said.
"They don't like me here, because I defend independence too fervently, and there are also personal motives of which you know very well. They don't like our policy, and a lot of other things, too," he said.
"Thinking imperially, as our journalists say, they so want to keep Belarus within their area of influence. This is exactly what imperial thinking is about: to subdue, break, and get a stranglehold on you," he said.
The gas dispute has yet again "shown Europe that it needs to look for an alternative route for energy supplies, because you cannot rely on Russia too much," Lukashenko said.
Lukashenko also suggested that the Russian leadership might also expect major concessions from him in the run-up to presidential elections in Belarus.
"I have said already to [Russian] media and to their principal TV channels that they have already started to mull the issue of presidential elections in Belarus," Lukashenko said.
"Pressure is growing in the run-up to presidential elections," Lukashenko said. "We have opposition, and they [Moscow] believe that I will give up everything for the sake of preserving power and getting support from the Kremlin before the elections," he said.
"I don't need any support and I don't need any recognition today except the Belarusian people's recognition," he said.