Germany Says Lukashenko’s ‘Dictator’ Comment Says It All

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s comment that he’d “rather be a dictator than gay” prompted a rebuke from the German government, which said the statement was proof of the leader’s authoritarian style.

Lukashenko made the comment to journalists yesterday at a sporting event outside the Belarusian capital, Minsk, calling accusations that he ran a dictatorship “hysteria,” according to a transcript posted on the president’s website. While Lukashenko didn’t say to whom his comments were directed, he drew comparisons between German and Polish policy toward the former Soviet state.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is openly gay, on Feb. 29 called Lukashenko’s government the “last dictatorship in Europe” after Belarus recalled its permanent envoy to the European Union and ambassador to Poland. His remark mirrored comments first made in 2005 in reference to Belarus by then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“It’s interesting in one sense that Lukashenko should consider himself a dictator, a conclusion the German government reached long ago -- and the Belarusian president provides proof of its accuracy on a daily basis,” Steffen Seibert, chief German government spokesman, told reporters today in Berlin.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke told the same briefing that Lukashenko’s comments “unfortunately speak for themselves.”

The spat flared up last week after the government in Minsk made the recalls in response to increased EU sanctions. Belarus also asked the Polish ambassador and the head of the EU’s mission to leave Minsk.

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