From year to year
It’s always interesting to begin something new, allured by intrigue and expectations. Some have worries about how the new year will unfold but we all harbour hopes and plans, wishing that these secret dreams will come true for each other. By the time this edition of our magazine is released, a whole month of the new year will have passed. Perhaps the future will seem clearer; some dreams may even have come to fruition. Life continues, with time always running ahead, developing events from one year to the next.
Let’s look at events on a worldwide scale. 2010 was a landmark year for the economic integration of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. Last July, a common market of 170m people for our three countries has been formed. Commodities freely cross our borders, without control or customs clearance. The next stage of integration is the Single Economic Space, which formation should be completed in 2011.
Launched in the past, our integration continues through 2011. In Space as Economic Category we ponder the benefits of SES membership for the business communities of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, looking especially at how working conditions will improve. By setting up a company in Belarus, national and foreign investors will receive access to a huge market of 170m — from Brest to Almaty and Vladivostok. Meanwhile, risks relating to business will be reduced, with the appearance of international legal guarantees.
Integration processes go beyond trade, having a political component; much depends on state will, with nuclear security still at the forefront of world policy. In this respect, the joint Belarusian-American statement of the December OSCE Summit in Astana is noteworthy. Belarus has agreed to eliminate its highly enriched uranium stockpiles, fulfilling its goal by the time of the next Nuclear Security Summit, in 2012 in South Korea. The USA supports this decision and plans to provide all necessary technical and financial assistance to our country.
The security guarantees of the three nuclear powers — Russia, the USA and the UK, fixed in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 as a reciprocal step in reply to Belarus’ refusal to hold nuclear weapons — are of special importance for Belarus. In a package statement at the OSCE Summit, Minsk pledged to remove its uranium. The USA is supporting Belarus’ efforts to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, as detailed in Single Umbrella of Security for All.
Returning to economy matters, it’s long been known that Belarus has a reputation as a highly technological country. However, even the most optimistic forecasts failed to predict that state demand for IT specialists would be so high. Software products are being produced in large numbers at the Belarusian High-Tech Park, with progress set to continue this year. Exports are rising, with products successfully sold domestically. Nevertheless, qualified staff are badly needed.
The Administration of the High-Tech Park of Belarus is trying to tempt young people to train in IT, with over 40 joint laboratories opening at the country’s technical universities, with the participation of HTP resident companies. These are helping students to master the latest technologies, which aren’t present in the academic curriculum, while working on definite projects. In gaining employment after graduating from university, they can continue working on the particular projects in which they were involved while studying.
Of course, being the largest and the most generous employer in the country’s IT sphere, the HTP has an advantage, skimming off the best staff. Not everyone is satisfied with this situation, although it has its logic. By working at the HTP, a specialist attracts dozens of times more investments and contemporary technologies than by working for any other firm or institution. Clearly, this direction should receive top priority, as we note in Priorities Determine Measures.
Culture is always attractive, as we see in No Translation Required, which shows how travellers view studying the Belarusian language as prestigious. The most ‘international’ street in Minsk is Karl Marx Street, connecting various buildings of the Belarusian State University, which has recently enrolled many foreign students. The philological department is located in the middle, where languages from all corners of the planet can be heard. Many people arriving from abroad in search of knowledge can freely communicate in Belarusian, some even without an accent. Students from the neighbouring states of Russia and Poland, as well as those from the Czech Republic, Germany and China, come to learn the Belarusian language, which shows their reverence towards our country.
Let’s also travel through the halls of the National Art Museum of Belarus, which boasts artworks to delight our souls. Read Labyrinths of Creative Acquaintances and tread the rich paths of Belarusian cultural heritage.
BY Viktor Kharkov,