Parliamentary traditions gain new impulse

Alexander Lukashenko believes that the Council of the Republic is an essential element within the Belarusian governmental power system
By Mikhail Viktorov

At the first session of the National Assembly of the fifth calling, he announced, “The Council of the Republic plays an important role in the political system of our country. It’s no secret that some of our detractors call the Council of the Republic an excessive element or artificial superstructure in the system of Belarusian authority,” said the head of state. “However, life itself has shown that only by acting together can our Chambers establish effective Parliament, serving the people and protecting stability, peace and tranquillity in society. Moreover, the Council of the Republic, together with the President, makes the most important decisions at the most critical moments. You should remember this. This says everything,” said Mr. Lukashenko.

The President noted that the Council of the Republic is like a political-legal filter, assessing draft laws already passed by the deputies. “This is extremely important: essential in fact,” stressed Mr. Lukashenko. “From real life experience, we need to look at whether a law will bring real benefit to people and to the country, if it is workable and if it will actually be used.”

According to Mr. Lukashenko, about 50 draft laws are still to be passed by the House of Representatives. “So, we should be working on this from the first day,” he told the senators. The head of state sees economic production and social policy as being among our legislative priorities and would like to see the newly elected Parliament continue working on ratifying international treaties within the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. He also believes that the Council of the Republic should remember the regions.

Senators’ work on developing international relations and inter-parliamentary contacts is also important. “Energetic and thoughtful international contacts by Parliament can and should help promote our products and attract investments while strengthening the image of Belarus. Work with those who respect our nation and recognise our sovereignty, being ready to build relations with us on equal terms,” said the President. “This covers most countries in the world: brotherly Russia, great China, India, the highly developed countries of East Asia, the rich Arab countries, Venezuela, the whole of Latin America and Africa.”

Mr. Lukashenko noted that the Council of the Republic, together with regional councils, can make a significant contribution to establishing direct links between the Belarusian regions and those of the Russian Federation. “Your personal contacts with foreign colleagues are vital for active and successful parliamentary co-operation,” he added. He also believes that it is necessary to support local self-government. “You are elected to local councils so should feel the regions’ concerns most acutely. How are the regions, districts, agro-towns, townships and villages living and developing? Local, or territorial, self-government is a key theme which I’d like to see given proper attention.”

“The situation in the country has been stable and manageable for a long time. Our society has matured enough to develop further, including stimulating and supporting citizens’ local initiatives. Indeed, local government is the basis of democracy,” Mr. Lukashenko asserts. “You are responsible for local self-government development, controlling its operation and making suggestions on how to improve it.”

“Senators’ work should be visible in the regions. Modern information technologies provide great opportunities for this. Alongside state media, Internet resources should be used more,” the President added. “Parliamentarians should be engaged in direct conversation with people, listening to citizens’ opinions and taking into account their needs.” He pointed out that the Council of the Republic performs the broadest personnel role, “The most important thing is that each one present here should feel responsibility for the country and for the welfare of the Belarusian people.”

Mr. Lukashenko wishes to open the new building of the Council of the Republic to all Belarusian and foreign visitors, as he noted at the first session, saying, “This is normal international practice, whereby anyone can take a tour, seeing how the supreme legislative body of the country works.” He views the new building (previously the National Library) as being symbolic. It is a unique historical architectural monument, with great cultural value, renovated using the most modern (mostly domestic) materials and technologies. He noted that the building is now technically well equipped, saying, “The modern computer and communication systems provide a good environment for your work.”

Anatoly Rubinov has been elected Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the fifth calling.
Recently, the first session of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the new calling has been also held, where Vladimir Andreichenko has been elected Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly through deputies’ secret voting.
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