In the Beginning Was the Word

This festival normally takes place in September. This time the ancient town of Postavy, in the north of the country, hosted the 13th Day of the Belarusian Literature
This festival normally takes place in September. This time the ancient town of Postavy, in the north of the country, hosted the 13th Day of the Belarusian Literature. The Town that will soon turn 600 years old became the cultural capital of Belarus. The Day of Belarusian Literature (or the Day of the Written Language) is a revered holiday in Belarus, which celebrates not only the written and printed word, but also the culture of the whole nation. It is also a sort of celebration of the Belarusian history, for this country contributed more to the establishment of the first printing practices (and enlightenment) of Eastern Europe than any other nation. It was Frantsysk Skaryna from Belarus that printed the first book in the region. It was the Bible, and it was in the Belarusian language, a truly amazing achievement of our culture. The festival was originally celebrated in Polotsk, the native town of Skaryna, but later other ancient towns of the country were awarded the right to play host to the festivities — Turov, Nesvizh, etc. This time it was Postavy and Her Majesty the Book. Writers and poets, publishers from many countries of the world have come here to feel the spiritual community and share the significant moment. We will certainly have more about the festival in the next issue.

There is an interesting geographical coincidence that prompted us to offer you the “Paris Near Vitebsk” article, a kind of chronicle of the Belarusian village named “Paris”. It is located right here, in the Postavy District, near Vitebsk. The Belarusian Parisians had to struggle for their village and the name, which once disappeared. Read more to learn how the villagers managed to restore the name and how the Belarusian Paris came about.

Another geographical, or rather integration reason to go to Russia. A real newsbreak in the Russian city of Sochi, which hosted an informal meeting of the heads of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) member-states. Informal talks in the south of Russia were extremely constructive, and Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko said most serious issues were addressed, especially the Customs Union. Read “Three States Set Integration Example” for more.

Foreign political priorities were analyzed in Minsk at a president-headed meeting with Belarus’ ambassadors. In fact, the participants focused on foreign trade, which has become the cornerstone of foreign relations and the key domain of Belarusian diplomats. Belarus has been doing very well here: exports have been the basis of the national economy for a long time, so it seems there is little left to strive for. But there is a more serous challenge, though: in the world of a bitter competition diplomats should have a vision of future achievements based on modern economic and political levers that will help augment the essential trade component. “Strong Economy Is the Best Policy” is the article that follows the results of the Minsk meeting.

One more geography lesson: Polesye is not only a Belarusian region, not only a natural dimension, but also a dimension of human life. “Concerns and Hopes” is an article that presents an analysis of ecological, agrarian and demographic aspects of Polesye. It is especially interesting, as it deals both with specific and general issues and changes the perspective from the global view of Polesye to the in-depth vision of a human being, the key value of the world. Man has always been inalienable from traditions, the environment and deep spirituality of that region. The reader will certainly find out even more.

Viktor Kharkov
Editor of “Беларусь.Belarus”
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