Convenient venue for dialogue
[b]During CIS Heads of State Council meeting, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus proposes additional mechanisms to bolster economic co-operation[/b]Alexander Lukashenko has remarked that, as part of its chairmanship, Belarus is focused on goals in line with ‘integration for public benefit’. With this in mind, Belarus has successfully implemented several initiatives within the spheres of security, ecology, green technologies, expansion of interregional and trans-boundary co-operation, and cultural dialogue. Economic partnerships have also been widely supported.
Alexander Lukashenko has remarked that, as part of its chairmanship, Belarus is focused on goals in line with ‘integration for public benefit’. With this in mind, Belarus has successfully implemented several initiatives within the spheres of security, ecology, green technologies, expansion of interregional and trans-boundary co-operation, and cultural dialogue. Economic partnerships have also been widely supported.
Mr. Lukashenko pointed out that negotiations began this year to draft an interstate treaty on a new free trade zone for services, aiming to support innovation-driven co-operation; it is now being filled with content.
The Belarusian President stressed at the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council that the doors of new associations are open to everyone. “It is time for us to think together about additional mechanisms to bolster economic co-operation within the CIS,” he asserted. “Taking into account the activation of integration processes across post-Soviet space, I believe that our Commonwealth, as the oldest integration association, should not lag behind.”
President Putin noted that the CIS can shape its own development agenda, regardless of the wider global market, but is keen to see more attention paid to the economic sphere. CIS growth in 2012 totalled 3.4 percent and is set to reach only 1.8 percent by the end of 2013. “The same can be said of investments, which have significantly reduced,” noted the Russian President.
President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych believes that, after signing an agreement with the European Union, Ukraine will find a compromise in its interaction with the Customs Union.
He told those present at the session, “We should take a close look at the last two years of trade relations between CIS states, especially the Customs Union, as I think we’ll find compromises and reveal new opportunities for the promotion of goods to joint markets.”
Mr. Putin also noted the importance of joint preparations to mark the 70th anniversary of Great Patriotic War victory, saying, “Our common duty to the generation of victors is to worthily celebrate this jubilee.”
Heads of state and representatives of other states agree unanimously on the importance of preserving memories of the Great Patriotic War, so that future generations know about and cannot forget the Great Victory. Mr. Lukashenko remarked that Belarus has seriously prepared for this event, in order to demonstrate that independence and national wellbeing depend primarily on co-operation with CIS states. The President believes that Belarus will always feel this way and underlines that CIS states should work hard to secure tighter collaboration in all spheres.
Mr. Lukashenko underlined that, during its chairmanship, Belarus has tried to inspire additional interaction between CIS countries across all areas. The Chairman of the Heads of State Council proposed that the organisation primarily focus on three areas, requiring significant intensification of work and co-ordinating activities within the international arena.
“Our countries don’t always speak with one voice, as is unfortunately evident even at the United Nations. Sometimes, our partners support decisions against the interests of the CIS or its individual members, which can hardly be considered productive,” the Belarusian leader stressed. After a short pause, Mr. Lukashenko added diplomatically, “I don’t think this is a matter of policy but resulting from the action of particular governments and foreign ministries.”
Minsk views trans-boundary projects as a priority, since these stimulate the interests of particular countries and living and working conditions within the CIS. Of course, an attentive look at the future is also important. Mr. Lukashenko spoke about the necessity of promoting the CIS among contemporary youngsters, saying, “We should make greater use of modern information and communication technologies, especially social networks and multimedia platforms.”
The President of Belarus is convinced that these initiatives would help to achieve significant results but asserts that Minsk will remain faithful to its traditional principles. “Belarus cannot imagine its sovereignty and independence without closest co-operation with members of the Commonwealth. Moreover, we can’t be a success unless we collaborate with those nations with whom we’ve been living as a single family for the past century…” Sovereignty, independence and prosperity of the nation rely on unity with CIS countries, so Belarus will remain committed to this position.
The tone and content of the speeches of other members of the session confirmed a shared approach, with the presidents speaking in favour of the provisions of the announced agenda.
Next year is to be declared the Year of Tourism across the CIS, since there is a wealth of cultural and historical sites to visit, with our common history and spiritual closeness apparent. Of course, we all desire to be better understood and tourism is one way in which to achieve this. The coming Winter Olympics in Sochi, in 2014, and the IIHF World Championship in Minsk will, of course, welcome a great many guests. Mr. Lukashenko invited participants and guests of the summit, as well as journalists, to come and see the matches and it’s likely that many will do. Minsk’s organisation of recent integration days shows that it’s able to welcome guests at the highest level.
By Vladimir Khromov