Belarus has been one of the few nations in the northern hemisphere to resist introducing nation-wide quarantines and other large-scale restrictions in its battle with the new coronavirus, instead preferring a targeted response.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has expressed concerns over how powerful nations and interests may try to use the coronavirus pandemic to reshape the world to their own advantage.
“I once asked the question: is this pandemic, this coronavirus, a man-made phenomenon? I don’t know the answer yet, but I have my suspicions. Are politicians and others using this situation for their own purposes? You and I both know the answer to that question. You already see how it is used today…Doesn’t it seem to you that the powerful forces of the world would like to remake the world, without a ‘war’ (Emmanuel Macron has already called it a war), through this so-called ‘corona-psychosis’, or ‘info-demic’? Many people are asking: ‘what will happen after the pandemic?’” Lukashenko said, speaking to Mir TV in an interview airing Friday.
Lukashenko has insisted that Belarus’s economy continue to operate as normal, even if this means risks to his political popularity, saying he could imagine what would happen to the country after the pandemic is over if it were to shut down.
“What will happen to us? Other countries will survive. Russia has oil and gas which the world including China needs. China is a huge, powerful economy. America has the [dollar] printing press – they’ve thrown in $2 trillion and plan to spend $2 trillion more. My friend [UN Secretary-General] Antonio Guterres, a sincere man, has proposed printing money worth ten percent of global GDP. Even as things are the dollar is gradually losing its value, and here it will just drop, giving rise to inflation. Where we will come out of this with our [Belarusian] ruble we know,” the president explained.
“Moreover, who will receive these $20 trillion? Where will this money end up? Will it not be a case of the rich getting richer, while the poor get poorer? I think it will. We’ve been pushed to shut down and sit and eat through the small reserves we have. Even in Russia it cannot be said that its currency reserves are so large,” Lukashenko said.
“And then, having printed out this 10 percent of global GDP, those who stay on their feet will come to us and say ‘here is a little for you, but now you will do what we say’. That’s how the world can be reshaped,” he warned.
The president noted that he has no doubt that the world will be a different place when the pandemic ends. His main concern now is what place Belarus will have in this new world.
Belarus has 351 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection to date, as well as 4 fatalities. The country has rejected broad coercive restrictions to fighting the virus, preferring a strategy of pinpoint measures including quarantine for people with the virus and testing anyone coming into contact with them. Belarus’s factories and farms remain open, as do educational institutions, shops, restaurants and other public amenities, and the country has not closed its borders with its Russian neighbor.