Geography of co-operation expanding
Alexander Lukashenko accepts credentials from foreign ambassadors
Thirteen new ambassadors have come to Belarus — representing Austria, Algeria, Vietnam, Guinea, Germany, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the European Union. The diplomats may now officially launch their work in Belarus, as confirmed by the flags on their cars leaving the Palace of Independence: according to protocol, new ambassadors arrive at the ceremony without flying their flags.
Ambassadors before presentation of credentials. Photo BelTA
The new diplomats are from diverse countries and continents but Belarus treats all equally, being open to co-operation with all. Mr. Lukashenko voiced Minsk’s expectations of each new ambassador in turn.
Of course, relations with the EU remain important; our close proximity inspires us to seek out shared solutions to common challenges and threats to the region. There are plenty of possibilities to expand investment, trade-economic co-operation and the realisation of joint infrastructure projects. To this end, we desire normalisation of relations. Positive dynamics of dialogue in recent times have created grounds to believe this possible, and there are grounds to hope that the period of mutual misunderstanding and mistrust with Germany (among Belarus’ major trading partners) will remain in the past.
As regards nearby Austria, positive dialogue is gaining momentum, as confirmed by the recent meeting of the presidents of our two states, in New York. We aim to further enhance our trade-economic and credit-investment contacts.
Constructive collaboration is likely to continue with Latvia, as it already exists at a high level in the business sphere. It’s time to progress in the political field.
Cyprus is well known to many of our citizens, thanks to tourist trips. However, we need to develop our mutual interests and long-term co-operation, creating necessary mechanisms.
The President welcomed the restoration of Kyrgyzstan’s diplomatic mission to Minsk. As the country is joining the Eurasian Economic Union, we will definitely enjoy closer ties.
In relations with Turkey, we are ready to shift to a strategic partnership, with Belarus acting as a conductor for Ankara’s presence in the Eurasian Economic Union by setting up its major industrial brand assembly lines in Turkey.
Dialogue is also intensively developing with Pakistan. Its decision to open an embassy in Belarus is the result of a recent top-level meeting. Fundamentals for co-operation are strong, with both sides demonstrating readiness to steadily construct inter-relations.
Vietnam has long been friendly towards Belarus, since Soviet times. The President is convinced that we have much in common and that details will be soon discussed at a Hanoi meeting.
Belarus has many good partners in the Arab world but is building its relations with Saudi Arabia from scratch. Of course, if mutual interest is demonstrated, good prospects are likely.
Africa is also in the sphere of Belarus’ foreign political interests, as the continent enjoys huge yet unrealised potential for development. Algeria is one of the most authoritative states in Africa, and is of great interest.
During informal conversation (traditionally held after the ceremony), the diplomats confirmed their readiness to work constructively for both sides’ benefit and interests.
After chatting with foreign diplomats, the President met the Governor of Russia’s Sakhalin Region, Oleg Kozhemyako, who is already well-known in Belarus and, until recently, headed the Amur Region. As its governor, Mr. Kozhemyako many times visited Belarus, bringing the region to the top position (among those in the Far East) regarding turnover with Belarus. This indicates that distance need not be an obstacle where co-operation is of mutual interest. Past experience will help develop interaction with Sakhalin: importantly, a co-operative agreement was signed with the region during the recent Forum of Belarusian and Russian Regions in Sochi.
Belarus is interested in creating territories of advanced social-economic development in Sakhalin. Twenty-nine projects of the kind are planned and, according to the President, the Russian regions will have no problems with Belarusian partners — as has been many times confirmed. Industrial co-operation, agriculture and the construction sphere could become priority avenues. Belarus is ready to help the Sakhalin Region modernise its agro-industrial complex, and construct highways and logistical centres.
Mr. Lukashenko has guaranteed the Russians that they can rely on Belarusian technologies, equipment, machinery, design and engineering services, and consumer goods. Moreover, in today’s tough economic conditions, Belarus offers the chance of purchase under profitable financing schemes.
Mr. Kozhemyako openly admits that co-operation with Belarus is of great significance for Sakhalin. As the Amur Region’s governor, he gained much ‘Belarusian’ experience, which will certainly help him in his new activities.
By Denis Krymov
Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak by telephone
The leaders of our two countries have discussed a number of urgent issues on the bilateral agenda, as well as the importance of co-operation within integration associations.
Mr. Lukashenko wished Mr. Putin a very happy birthday.
Partners listen to each other
Belarus ready to become the gateway to the Eurasian Economic Union for the European Union
Speaking at the panel discussion, entitled Belarus: European Partner — Eurasian Market, Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Guryanov, stressed that the country keeps to the principle of integration. When it joined the union, Belarus did not cut itself off from other partners. “We try to be a gateway to the Eurasian Economic Union, including for our partners from Europe. When assessing the laws that are in force in the Eurasian Economic Union, businessmen should not be afraid that the rules established by legislation are not consistent with existing practice,” said Mr. Guryanov.
“The main advantage of integration within the Eurasian Economic Union is the elimination of barriers to free movement of goods, services, capital, and workforce. Not all the approaches have been unified yet and not all the processes run smoothly. Nevertheless, the integration is progressing and the partners are listening to each other.” According to him, there are no situations when one country sets the rules; they are developed by the Eurasian Economic Commission taking into account the interests of all parties.
The Belarus: European Partner — Eurasian Market panel discussion was held at the Milan Stock Exchange, attended by around 250 Belarusian and Italian businessmen, as well as government officials.
During the discussion, the President of the Foundation for Worldwide Co-operation, Italy’s former PM, Romano Prodi, announced that Minsk plays an important diplomatic role in settling the situation in Ukraine.
By Vitaly Krotov