Representatives of 40 Russian and all six Belarusian regions met recently, at the 3rd Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia, on June 7th-8th, in Minsk. Held as part of the slogan of ‘Efficient Social-Economic Policy as Basis for Wellbeing and Spiritual Progress of Belarusian and Russian Citizens’ the event centred on trade-economic relations. Dozens of agreements and contracts were signed, worth over $300mln. The President of Belarus and the Chairman of the Supreme State Council, Alexander Lukashenko, was joined in making speeches by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, the Chairman of Belarus’ Council of the Republic — Mikhail Myasnikovich, the Chair of Russia’s Council of the Federation — Valentina Matvienko, the State Secretary of the Union State — Grigory Rapota, and various parliamentarians and ministers.
Previous forums have been devoted to the agrarian and industrial spheres but, this time, the social-humanitarian theme came under focus. Nine sections of the forum focused on possible cooperation in the sphere of labour relations and social protection. This covered Belarusian-Russian humanitarian collaboration and interaction in the field of tourism, as well as scientific and sci-tech cooperation, and collaboration in the educational sphere. Union State doctors are being encouraged to liaise. Meanwhile, media representatives of our two states shared their experience, as did leading members of enterprises and organizations.
Other venues hosting events linked to the Forum were Nesvizh National Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserve, the Belarusian State University, one of Minsk’s clinical hospitals, the Journalism Institute, the National Academy of Sciences’ Presidium and Minsk Vegetable Factory. Visitors enjoyed diverse round table discussions, with results summed up at a plenary sitting.
The State Secretary of the Union State, Grigory Rapota, tells us, “The forum has investigated various topics within the scope of the Eurasian Economic Union, such as harmonising national laws in the field of health protection, information provision on integration processes, and conducting agreed industrial policy. As regards social and humanitarian cooperation, we have grounds for pride in the Union State. However, some issues need solving. This forum is a useful format in allowing us to gain understanding of each other’s potential through personal communication. We need to encourage similar meetings in the future.”
The international Belagro exhibition is a place for Belarusian and Russian agro-industrialists to meet. Numerous exhibits were on show at the old Minsk aerodrome, open to all visitors. Meanwhile, those wishing to discuss our two states’ cooperation in the industrial sphere met at Atlant JSC, known for its refrigerators and other white goods, which sell across the Union State. After the forum, many heads of Russian regions — especially those from remote areas — travelled to Belarusian regions, to agree further co-operation locally.
Minsk’s House of Moscow hosted diverse events devoted to the Days of Moscow in the Belarusian capital. Our two cities are close-tied, with relations across the spheres of culture and business. Concerts were organised and partnership agreements concluded at the Moscow-Belarusian Forum of Business Cooperation. A festival of regional TV companies from Belarus and Russia also took place, under the Image of Time slogan, and the Union State’s Youth Spartakiade also organised a round of its competition.
The final document of the forum is substantial — aiming at developing regional cooperation and enriching it with new forms and possibilities.
By Vladimir Fiodorov