Italian business in Belarus brings friendship and co-operation
[b]International co-operation — especially regarding trade — is usually based on mutual interest and pragmatism. The same could be said of the Belarusian-Italian Economic Forum, recently held in Minsk. It was clearly an indication of the progress made in our mutual relations, with Belarusian-Italian ties characterised by business interest alongside warmth, trust, gratitude and kind-heartedness…[/b]For many years, Italy has been welcoming children from Chernobyl-affected regions for recuperation. Up to 3m Italians are involved in the process; on the Apennines, about 300 charitable organisations are operational. Humanitarian associations embrace every Italian region, bringing ever strengthening ties of solidarity and partnership. As a result, Italy is seen as a close and reliable partner of Belarus — a wonderful foundation for further mutually beneficial collaboration.
For many years, Italy has been welcoming children from Chernobyl-affected regions for recuperation. Up to 3m Italians are involved in the process; on the Apennines, about 300 charitable organisations are operational. Humanitarian associations embrace every Italian region, bringing ever strengthening ties of solidarity and partnership. As a result, Italy is seen as a close and reliable partner of Belarus — a wonderful foundation for further mutually beneficial collaboration.
On welcoming the large Italian delegation to the forum, Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Valery Voronetsky, first expressed great gratitude to the Italian Government and the non-governmental sector of Italy for its work in the recuperation of Belarusian children.
Our children are no strangers to Italian families — families which, in fact, drive the Italian economy. Italy’s strength lies in its small and medium-sized businesses, built upon family traditions. Genoa, Florence, Venetia, Lombardia and other regions have always been known for their family traditions, passed on from one generation to the next. Recently, representatives of many famous Italian brands have visited Minsk.
Italy’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Adolfo Urso, did not hide his ambitious plans. “Our task is to double our investments into Belarus and gain a partnership foothold,” he told the forum. His words are confirmed by action: Belarus and Italy have signed an agreement to set up an Italian industrial area in the Brest region. Several other concrete deals have been announced — all concluded during the forum. However, major work still lies ahead.
“The Belarusian-Italian Forum has been the result of a visit by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to our country,” stresses Vladimir Ulakhovich, Director of the Centre for International Studies. “Top level meetings and good words can bring no further action but we’ve seen concrete developments from the meeting between President Lukashenko and the Italian Prime Minister. The arrival of an Italian delegation in Minsk signals that Mr. Berlusconi’s visit is yielding fruit.”
The forum gathered representatives of about 70 Italian companies, as well as those from the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade, SIMEST, the Institute for Export Credit Insurance Services and the Agency for International Development and Economic Co-operation. Representatives of banking, logistical, insurance and construction associations also attended.
“The presence of these very important institutions is a vital sign for us,” continues Mr. Ulakhovich. “In Italy, regional and national associations receive financial support for the promotion of Italian business abroad, so play a key role. Their participation testifies to the serious position taken by the state.”
According to Mr. Voronetsky, Italian partners are showing huge interest in Belarus as a gateway to co-operation between the West and the East. Much attention is being given to the country’s transit potential and interest in the credit sphere and in the setting up of Italian ventures is also evident.
Mr. Urso confirms that agreements relating to economic collaboration between Belarus and Italy are finding practical realisation. The republic could soon see great activity, enjoying co-operation with Italy in several branches.
The Ambassador of Belarus to Italy, Yevgeny Shestakov, has told journalists that container transportation from Brest to Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Far East, China and Korea is under scrutiny, with logistics being developed. Additionally, in early March, container cargo shipment between Italy and Belarusian Brest is to become operational.
Belarus hopes to sign an agreement with Italy in the field of aerospace technologies. Meanwhile, an Italian company is currently engaged in establishing a joint venture in the field of chemical production — of great significance for the whole Eastern-European region. Two power stations, providing heat, are planned by Italian investors in the Brest region — of trans-border significance. “The region’s energy system has access to those of Poland and the Baltic States. Plans are being drawn up,” notes Mr. Shestakov.
No doubt, these significant projects will continue to be a talking point. The success of the recent forum, gathering hundreds of representatives of small and medium-sized businesses, indicates the ‘real relations of Belarus and Italy — based on the friendship and co-operation witnessed so far’, stresses Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Voronetsky. Mr. Shestakov emphasises that direct flights between Minsk and major Italian cities should soon launch, bringing Rome and Milan even closer.
By Nina Romanova