On one’s own land

It was extremely hot this June; at the beginning of the month, temperatures hit record highs for the last few decades. This hasn’t greatly affected our lifestyle; it has been hot, but not intolerably so. Meanwhile, we have other concerns, such as the ‘rebooting’ of our economy. This is changing the country’s financial market, as we explore in On the Way to Sustainable Development.The plan of action developed by the Government envisages serious tightening of budgetary expenditure, alongside reduced rouble emission. Additional measures will be adopted to ensure social protection for low income citizens. To smooth the transition, Belarus hopes to attract foreign loans, while conducting privatisation over the next three years. This will allow the Republic to expand its gold-and-currency reserves; the total amount of assets for sale between 2011 and 2013 could reach $7.5bn.The recent visit of the Belarusian President to Kazakhstan’s Astana showed the priorities of our foreign policy. Alexander Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed our bilateral relationship, as well as co-operation within the Customs Union
It was extremely hot this June; at the beginning of the month, temperatures hit record highs for the last few decades. This hasn’t greatly affected our lifestyle; it has been hot, but not intolerably so. Meanwhile, we have other concerns, such as the ‘rebooting’ of our economy. This is changing the country’s financial market, as we explore in On the Way to Sustainable Development.
The plan of action developed by the Government envisages serious tightening of budgetary expenditure, alongside reduced rouble emission. Additional measures will be adopted to ensure social protection for low income citizens. To smooth the transition, Belarus hopes to attract foreign loans, while conducting privatisation over the next three years. This will allow the Republic to expand its gold-and-currency reserves; the total amount of assets for sale between 2011 and 2013 could reach $7.5bn.
The recent visit of the Belarusian President to Kazakhstan’s Astana showed the priorities of our foreign policy. Alexander Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed our bilateral relationship, as well as co-operation within the Customs Union. The launch of Minsk-Astana direct regular flight in 2011 should promote relations between residents of both states. In Where Europe and Asia Meet, we look at how Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Nazarbayev have ‘long established direct communication’.
Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan continue to construct the Customs Union. The prime ministers of our three states gathered in Minsk to revise its components, as we relate in Force of Attraction. Actually, the Customs Union became operational a year ago, after the presidents of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan signed the fundamental documents. Of course, some issues remain unco-ordinated; each state has its own sensitive position. Belarusian manufacturers assert their difficulty in competing with Russian goods, due to differences in energy pricing (2-2.5-fold). Our economies differ greatly, with Russia and Kazakhstan currently experiencing pressure from Chinese capital and goods. Meanwhile, Belarus is trying to overcome its negative trade balance. Nevertheless, our three states have been demonstrating positive dynamics in the first year of the Customs Union’s existence.
The issue of energy security is ever present worldwide, with climate change and environmental pollution playing their part; power engineering is the foremost priority. Accordingly, Belarus plans to raise its use of local and renewable energy sources. A National Programme has been adopted for this purpose, with around $3.5bn allocated over the coming five years, as we explain in Positive Energy. By 2015, Belarus plans to double its application of local and renewable energy sources. Moreover, the ecological situation is to be improved. The plans aim to make our country more energy independent. Although it’s impossible to completely replace Russian gas and oil, alternative routes of delivery, the construction of a nuclear power station, and the development of local and renewable energy sources will allow us to considerably reduce dependence on our Russian supplier. The economic feasibility of such a policy is undisputed.
This issue of our magazine is also devoted to other topics. Field for Initiative describes how the Association of Farming Enterprises is being set up in Belarus to protect the interests of farmers. It is to offer consultations and information support to rural smallholders, who may only account for two percent of the country’s total agricultural production but occupy a niche in some areas. Last year, Belarusian farmers celebrated their 20th anniversary, having gained their plots in 1991. Of course, not all the original farmers proved successful; until mid-2000s, the number of farming enterprises was constantly falling. However, definite growth has been observed since 2008, inspiring optimism. Belarus boasts potential to develop its farming. Farmers and the state are both keen to see agricultural success, as we are all united by our native land and universally benefit from farming achievements.

BY Viktor Kharkov,
magazine editor
Беларусь. Belarus
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