Bush calls Belarus Europe's last dictatorship
U.S. President George W. Bush said Saturday that people in Belarus live under "the last remaining dictatorship in Europe" and deserve better.
But the foreign ministry in Minsk accused Bush of interfering in its internal affairs, and said Belarus will determine its own path of democratic development.
The United States accuses Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of crushing dissent and rigging elections.
But Bush, who is in Europe for ceremonies to mark the end of the Second World War, rejected the suggestion that Washington and Moscow might work out a mutually agreeable way to bring democracy to Belarus.
"Secret deals to determine somebody else's fate â I think that's what we're lamenting here today, one of those secret deals among large powers that consigns people to a way of government," Bush said during a stop in Latvia, before flying on to the Netherlands for VE-Day ceremonies on Sunday.
Bush said the Soviet domination of central and eastern Europe after the Second World War will be remembered as "one of the greatest wrongs of history."
He also acknowledged that the United States played a significant role in the division of the continent, in the 1945 agreement at Yalta between U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British prime minister Winston Churchill.
"Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable," Bush said.