Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has reportedly lashed out at openly gay German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle over recent sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU), calling claims that he is a dictator ludicrous and then adding ‘it’s better to be a dictator than gay.”
Lukashenko, in comments made over the weekend, was vocal in criticizing EU politicians over threatening sanctions due to the country’s human rights record. He reacted particularly strongly to the German Foreign Minister’s branding him “Europe’s last dictator.”
Lukashenko said Belarus would give a strong reaction to any sanctions, according to local news agency Belta.
“This is absolute hysteria,” Belta reported him as saying.
“And as you can see, at the forefront there are two types of politicians … one lives in Warsaw, another in Berlin.”
“Whoever was shouting about dictatorship there … when I heard that, I thought: it’s better to be a dictator than gay.”
European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels over the weekend called for new measures to pressure the Belarus President over alleged human rights abuses. Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who wasn’t explicitly named by Lukashenko but who is thought to have been the target of his comments, was appointed foreign minister in 2009. He entered a civil partnership with event manager Michael Mronz in 2010.
This isn’t the first time Lukashenko has attacked Westerwelle however.
The 57-year-old Lukashenko last year reportedly told Westerwelle that “he must lead a normal life.”
He later offered a tepid apology, which included saying he “did not like gays.”
This outburst follows an escalation of tensions between Belarus’ administration and the European Union after Belarus recently expelled an EU ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Brussels over recent EU sanctions.