Many important tasks lie ahead
Alexander Lukashenko addressed deputies of the House of Representatives and members of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the fifth and sixth convocations
Parliamentarians in the House of Government’s Oval Hall
Transparency in policy
An important stage is beginning in the political life of our country. The term of the House of Representatives’ deputies and members of the Council of the Republic of the fifth convocation is coming to an end. Parliamentary elections have been held and the time has come to pass the baton to the next National Assembly. Today’s event should herald a new tradition of an independent Belarus in the development of parliamentarianism. The basis of this tradition is in the unity of our people. Its purpose is to analyse the work of the outgoing Parliament and encourage the newly elected deputies.
The work will be complex and demanding. The country needs to overcome the negative trends in the economy and reach stable dynamic growth rates. We have all the necessary conditions for this, the most important being the unity of our people and the political will of the leadership of the country to move forward — which is eloquently confirmed by the recent parliamentary elections. They are a serious challenge for us since they were held under complex conditions.
Firstly, we had to prove wrong the bias prevailing in Western countries that democratic norms are not met in Belarus during national voting. However, to date, nobody has defined these democratic norms. Therefore, the entire electoral process was under the close supervision of numerous foreign observers: we invited them from both the West and the East.
We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate to the world community the transparency of our electoral system and the legitimacy of governments. The Belarusian commission gratefully accepted constructive recommendations regarding the improvement of electoral legislation from foreign colleagues. For us, everything that is good for business and not contrary to the interests of the Belarusian people is to be welcomed.
Consistency in work
Any electoral process has its own Rubicon: the line which cannot be crossed by the authorities — the President in our case. He occupies a place of power over all branches under the Constitution and has to create equal conditions for campaigning for candidates and opportunities for voters. I did my best to achieve this. I’m absolutely not against the increasing role of parties; however, this should not be done artificially or from a place of antagonism against the authorities.
At the moment, the opposition is already present in Parliament. Why then did they fail to win? Why are there so few of its representatives in Parliament? I would honestly like there to be more — if only so that I am not accused of not allowing them. The answer is simple: our opposition is too far from people’s interests. Those who were closer to their interests, who were representatives — rather than the enemy of what is being done in the country; those people joined the Parliament. Moreover, our nation cannot be fooled with tales of luxury living overseas. Victory by several true opposition members — as I said, thinking deputies — has caused quite a stir among the leadership of their parties. The question is, do they want to take power into their own hands and are they aware of what to do with it? Believe me when I say again that I have known them since childhood. They do not know what to do.
As a president in office I cannot give power into these hands. But I will act in full compliance with our Constitution, particularly in order not to be criticised in the West and in order not to embarrass our friends in the East. Everyone clamoured for access to TV. We gave it. But the majority, including the opposition, who desperately wanted to go on air — had nothing to say. They say Lukashenko held the elections in order to please the West. I would like to answer this question directly. Not just me, but the entire Belarusian power structure did everything not only to please the West and the Americans, but also to make our friends in Russia, China, Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic countries, Asia and Africa feel proud of us. We wanted our elections to be appreciated all over the world. Isn’t this natural? Moreover, the economy of the country, the lives of our people depend on it to a certain extent! Yes, we wanted to please certain people, but we did it in a decent way without violating the Constitution.
Certainly, our economy is facing challenges today, but they are surmountable, not disastrous. These challenges are a result of our mistakes, mainly those of the government. The major issues are associated with our exports, but we never returned from business trips without signed agreements. There may be billions of dollars in China and hundreds of dollars in Pakistan we are just starting to work with. The latest parliamentary elections demonstrated that there is no dissent in society and there are no reasons to change state policy. They also reaffirmed the growing role of parliament in the preparation of the country’s development strategy and parliament’s growing political base. This is proved by the participation of political parties and public associations with various views in the election campaign as well as the fact, that their representatives won parliamentary seats in a fair fight.
The National Assembly of the 6th convocation includes worthy representatives of our people. Over the next four years they will improve existing and adopt new laws aimed at improving the efficiency of the economy, the elimination of barriers to business, attracting investments to the country, job creation and regional development. Still, a lot is to be done for further improvement of the social sphere, support of financially disadvantaged citizens, improvement of the educational system including higher education, as well as housing and labour legislation. The previous composition of the National Assembly deserves our gratitude. Its term fell in a difficult period in world history. Especially dramatic events took place abroad. Recall the violent change of power in the once-prosperous countries of the North Africa and the Middle East. I say this with responsibility, because I have been to those countries more than once. I’m an old President. I know well not just Bashar al-Assad, who is now being bombed there, but even his father — Hafez al-Assad. You cannot imagine how intelligent he was. Once Fidel Castro and I, believe it or not, spent the whole day and night, just having a drink, listening in wide-mouthed astonishment, as if students of history, to world history from his mouth. And it differed completely from what we were taught! Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, who was impaled, hanged, mutilated. He was not a fool and he was a very brave man who did not leave his country even knowing that he would be killed.
Consolidation is important
I sometimes think, recalling former US President Bush. The world drifts into open and hot confrontation. The situation is worse than during the Cold War period. Rule of the gun, hypocrisy, insincerity in international relations, especially between the geopolitical players dominate today. International law is trampled under specious excuses. All countries try to find their niche, new regional integration structures are being created that are trying to protect themselves by high protective barriers, particularly in the economy. You may have noticed that today there are a lot of talks about a confrontation between Russia and the United States in Syria. We are politicians, who knows what the essence of this confrontation is? Dangers of the modern era are born from such confrontations. In these circumstances foreign policy is playing centre stage.
I have to admit that in the past we often talked about a multi-vector policy but in reality we’ve been flying on one wing. However, life demonstrated to us that in a crisis we face excessive risks of being dependent on political moods in the relevant countries. Our task is to secure a real positive balance in relations with all our neighbours as well as all the leading geopolitical centres of power. This is an extremely complicated task. We are forced to pursue this policy not to offend anyone, to avoid damaging anyone’s interests, to stay strong and to avoid becoming someone else’s province once again. Do you think it is a wrong point of view? It is not my idea. It is an embodiment of the hopes and desires of the entire Belarusian nation. This is our policy as it is. And we are ready to co-operate with everybody for the sake of this goal.
A multi-polar world
...The task of the newly elected deputies is to open the door wider not only for our neighbours but for all who want to live and make friends with Belarus. You should use a variety of information on the economy, geography, culture and history of our native country to be able to present it at its best, to attract potential investors, businessmen, tourists. We need to work systematically with our neighbours and allies. Belarusian MPs traditionally actively co-operate with their colleagues as part of Belarus-Russia Union State Parliamentary Assembly, parliamentary structures of CIS, CSTO, and it is our main direction.
We need peace and security, friendship and co-operation between nations. Our Belarusian nation is the kindest and most international one.
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