We should speak about completion as if it’s beginning or even continuation. It’s vital to do so at the junction of two years, when one has practically become a history while the other one is only going to take its rights. These aren’t separated from each other by some concrete wall; otherwise, time would have stopped and frozen. Meanwhile, it continues its run and many events, more exactly their consequences, overflow from one year to another while receiving their new development there. This is the dialectics of contemporary chronicle, the dialectics of our life. The current issue of our magazine continues to explore this topic.
The Union of Three Nations material describes that on January 1st, 2012, the Single Economic Space (SES) of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan is launched, opening the door to a new period of integration (preceded by our three states’ Customs Union). Commodities, services, capital and labour will be able to move more freely. The formation of a Eurasian Economic Union will be the next stage of co-operation between Minsk, Moscow and Astana. The major goal of the SES is to enhance people’s wellbeing and quality of life — as presidents Alexander Lukashenko, Dmitry Medvedev and Nursultan Nazarbayev agreed in Moscow in November. They signed the Eurasian Economic Integration Declaration. For Belarus and Kazakhstan — whose economies are much smaller than that of Russia — the preservation of national sovereignty during the process of integration is vital. Accordingly, the voices of Minsk and Astana in solving common issues need to be as weighty as that of Moscow.
Our Course Converges is also dedicated to the topic of integration. In November, Gorki-9 residence, near Moscow, hosted a session of the Supreme State Council of the Belarus-Russia Union State — for the first time in two years. Belarusian-Russian integration had seemed to be on hold but the Gorki-9 meeting and its adopted decisions prove that our two countries have a serious future. Minsk and Moscow are moving towards their goal of fully-fledged union. At present, Minsk and Moscow co-ordinate their foreign policy, jointly discussing external challenges and threats According to Mr. Lukashenko, Belarus and Russia are acting as a single state regarding issues of defence. Integration in the social sphere has also reached new heights: Belarusians and Russians enjoy almost equal rights in each state (as the Kazakhs do not yet).
Integration originates from pragmatic goals, which are based on mutual benefits for all sides, as is proven in the Venezuela Comes Closer. Dozens of thousand kilometres separate Minsk and Caracas, taking 16 hours by plane and one refuelling stop. However, in recent times, Venezuela has become much closer to Belarus. This former ‘terra incognita’ has transformed into a huge construction site, where Belarusians drill wells, construct agro-towns and accommodation, lay gas pipelines and build new plants.
In late November, Minsk’s Victoria Hotel hosted the 1st `Venezuela-Belarus: Achievements and Prospects of Bilateral Relations` Forum, reflecting the scale of our bilateral liaisons and outlining new areas for collaboration. Just five years ago, Belarusian-Venezuelan turnover totalled $5m but, by late 2011, this may have reached $2bn (matching that of Belarus’ largest trading partners in Europe).
Despite its natural wealth, Venezuela (ranked first globally for oil deposits) can hardly be called a rich state. It faces many challenges: construction of accommodation, opening of new production facilities and creation of new jobs. In this respect, Belarus is an ideal partner, boasting well-developed industrial and scientific potential. Venezuela is presenting new opportunities to the Belarusian economy. In the past, oil contracts with Caracas have eased Minsk’s access (following a dramatic rise in Russian prices). Belarus has pioneered the Eastern-European region in terms of mastering alternative routes of supply and continues to develop its hydrocarbon co-operations.
This is how our thesis about development is confirmed in practice. A range of other materials also reflect this tendency and even show a link between contemporary days and earlier times. Beautiful Symbols reveals the essence of how wonderful creations of human hands — Slutsk sashes — have become a bright example of Belarus’ rich cultural heritage. We’ll be proud of this heritage and admire it nowadays and in future.
BY VIKTOR KHARKOV,