Toegevoegd: donderdag 22 april

Belarus head of state criticizes failure against terrorism.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko (photo) said on Wednesday the world had done little to ensure stability and combat terrorism, launching a thinly veiled broadside against western governments long at odds with Belarus . In an annual address which criticised NATO expansion, expressed hopes for better ties with the European Union and promised a tough battle in a parliamentary poll, Lukashenko stood by his policies which many in the West say have driven his former Soviet state into economic and political isolation.

Lukashenko, 50, vowed to protect his people by following Belarus 's own path, not by following any "political games" of other countries. "Unfortunately we have to state that the world has made no progress over the past year in solving this problem (of terrorism)," Lukashenko told parliament in an annual address which was broadcast on state television.

" Belarus , I repeat, is doing and will do all in its power to fight this plague of the 21st century. However, it does not intend to get involved in any political games under the banner of fighting terrorism." Lukashenko, a former collective farm boss in power since 1994, has long taken to task Western policies, laying out a different vision for his country of 10 million which will border the European Union in May when some of its neighbours join.

The West, in turn, has criticised Lukashenko for stifling media freedoms, cracking down on the country's small opposition and failing to push reform or guarantee human rights. Ahead of the parliamentary election, analysts in Belarus say Lukashenko would be forced to try to convince voters his chosen path for Belarus - a mix of Soviet-style economic and social policies with a strong nationalist bent - is the right one.

In the speech, he struck out at NATO expansion, saying: "We have often said that the expansion of NATO's sphere of activity has no grounds". He added that "our territory is now exposed at all points from technical reconnaissance". But he said he did want better ties with the European Union.

"The government must systematically work on all aspects of our relations with the European Union," he said. And he said he would guarantee free and fair parliamentary elections in October. The West criticised the last poll. "I ask you earnestly, let's be human during this difficult stage," he said. "I as the head of state, guarantee the constitution and will help the democratic process of election."

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