Cherry to blossom to honour friendship and reconciliation

The President of Belarus joined foreign diplomats and representatives of international organisations to plant a tree of peace and sustainable development

Loshitsa Park is a favourite place for Minskers and city guests: a wonderful natural oasis, with much history. The very air seems to embody past times, inspiring us to walk slowly and speak gently. Recently, its tranquillity was coloured by a symbolic event, as the President of Belarus joined foreign diplomats and representatives of international organisations to plant a tree of peace and sustainable development, honouring the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the launch of the UN.

Alexander Lukashenko and Cihan Sultanoglu

In May, a tree of peace and unity was planted near the UN headquarters in New York to honour the 70th anniversary of victory over fascism. The initiative has since found response among almost 50 other states, each planting a weeping cherry, whose white flowers are generally considered to symbolise purity, revival, kindness and a call for reconciliation. Minsk’s Loshitsa Park is already a symbolic place, having hosted a UN humanitarian mission (in Loshitsa mansion) in the mid-1940s; from there, staff rendered post-war economic assistance to European states.

Heads of diplomatic missions and UN regional agency staff gathered near Loshitsa mansion for the ceremonial planting. Alexander Lukashenko chatted warmly with them and, later, joined the Regional Director for Europe, CIS and the Baltic States Cihan Sultanoglu, in planting the tree. Ms. Sultanoglu is also the UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator.

The President made a short tour over the mansion, which has been renovated from its previous poor condition. The pretty, late 19th century atmosphere is enhanced by the house’s fireplace, which was made in Riga (and inspired by German trends). Only two similar exist in Europe.

He then signed the UN framework programme on technical assistance to Belarus for 2016-2020: the second document envisaging a joint strategy between UN agencies and our country.

Priorities of co-operation include migration, energy, environmental protection, health protection, education, and the fight against drug trafficking and human trafficking. These issues remain high on the UN agenda for sustainable development until 2030: a document approved by heads of state in September, during the UN General Assembly session.

Our country has presented its resolutions to the GA many times, covering diverse issues, and all have enjoyed support among the global community. Ms. Sultanoglu stresses, “We appreciate it when such states as Belarus share information, developments and experience with partners. Belarus-UN joint efforts should promote sustainable development goals, opening new possibilities for partnership.”

UN symbolic train visits all regional centres of Belarus

On October 30th, Minsk’s Railway Station welcomed the ‘UN70 Belarus Express for SDGs’ train from Vitebsk, which has been touring the regional centres of the Republic since October 23rd

Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Valentin Rybakov, and UN Resident Co-ordinator / UNDP Resident
Representative, Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha, welcome the arrival of the UN Express to Minsk

The planting of the tree of peace and sustainable development launched the festive UN ‘Express for Sustainable Development Goals’: a symbolic train which set off from Minsk’s railway station, visiting all regional centres, and bringing diverse public events.

By Alexander Pimenov
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