Finding new promising partners

Novopolotsk hosts first Belarusian-Latvian Forum of Twin Cities

By Grigory Semenov

Twelve partnership agreements have been concluded between our local authorities and those of our neighbours as a result of the forum. Meanwhile, 300 similar agreements have been signed between 30 Belarusian cities and other municipalities across the globe (mostly with those in Latvia).

Representatives of several twin cities attended the forum, allowing them to meet their partners; over 250 Belarusian and Latvian heads of cities and districts took part, alongside directors of enterprises and diplomats. Molodechno has long established twin city relations with Yelgava, while Vitebsk has been closely liaising with Daugavpils. These two have been implementing a project to restore the traditions of famous folk celebrations such as Kupalle and Ligo, with a contemporary concert ground soon to be constructed in Vitebsk.

The host of the forum — Novopolotsk — has close ties with Ludza and Ventspils and is a member of the border Ozerny Krai Euroregion. The latter is helping equip qualitative illumination at a roller skiing track at Novopolotsk’s Children and Youth Sports School of Olympic Reserve — to be open to professional athletes and tourists alike.

According to the Head of the Belarusian Twined Towns Organisation, the Chairman of Minsk’s Regional Executive Committee, Boris Batura, the active development of twin city relations between Latvia and Belarus is logical. “We — nations who have historically lived side by side and boasted close cultural contacts — have an innate need for this. No sanctions can alter this fact. Moreover, the development of good neighbourly relations is a major element of our state’s foreign policy,” he notes.

Our two states have been actively co-operating in such spheres as tourism, nature protection and economics. Meanwhile, Belarusian exports to Latvia have more than tripled over the last year. According to the Chairman of the Vitebsk Regional Executive Committee, Alexander Kosinets, the potential for further mutually beneficial collaboration is yet to be exhausted, “We should create more joint ventures to manufacture innovative products. Logistics are a very promising direction, as Belarus is a bridge between the West and East, opening the way to the Single Economic Space, which involves Russia and Kazakhstan.”

In Novopolotsk, co-operative agreements were signed by Uzda and Grobina, Slonim and Ogre, Svisloch and Rundale: 12 pairs were formed in total and the list should soon expand, with two dozen more partners added. We may learn more within a month, when Brest will be hosting the Belarus-Latvia Investment Forum.

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