2009 WAS ANNOUNCED THE YEAR OF NATIVE LAND. One would think that it is not the most favorable time now. The world economic crisis abolishes significant projects started in Great Powers. As for Belarus, it announces 2009 the Year of native land, spiritual and cultural renaissance! President Alexander Lukashenko signed a corresponding decree. Such a decision was logical
One would think that it is not the most favorable time now. The world economic crisis abolishes significant projects started in Great Powers. As for Belarus, it announces 2009 the Year of native land, spiritual and cultural renaissance! President Alexander Lukashenko signed a corresponding decree. Such a decision was logical.

This year was remarkable for Belarus. The country continues realization of the balanced foreign policy. This, according to the national poet Yanka Kupala, helped it to “take its place of honor between nations.” Belarus doesn’t have problems neither with the West nor with the East. The country still has sincere friendly relations with Russia. Partnership relations with the European Union have stabilized which was confirmed by the recent visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Vigovdas Ushackas to Minsk.
When there is exactness on the foreign political field, it’s high time to think about our business. The most important thing is to comprehend a historical way of the country for the last years and centuries.

Thus, the Republic of Belarus appeared on the map of the world in 1991. However, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist as Belarus.

However, a sovereign Belarusian nation was formed not long ago. The road to independence was slow. It is remarkable that Belarusian Soviet Socialistic Republic (its 90th anniversary has been recently celebrated) was the own house of Belarusian people. Over decades they praised ideals of originality realized in our time. Occupation of BSSR by Hitlerite Germany in 1941–1944 divided the destiny of Belarusians into two halves — pre-war and after-war. If people say “war” they mean the Second World War or the Great Patriotic War. Destroyed cities, burnt villages and hundreds of killed people were the result of intrusion into Belarusian land by Nazi invaders. On July 3 our country will celebrate the 65th Day of Independence. Belarusian people consciously chose the Date of their capital Minsk liberation from fascists as the main national holiday.

Announcement of this year to be the Year of native land shall assist to preserve and multiply the national spiritual and cultural legacy and upbring patriotism which was stated by the press service of the Head of the State in a comment to the Decree of the President.

Besides, this year is also significant for the neighboring Lithuania. It celebrates the 1000th anniversary of the first mentioning of the country. Taking into account close relations of our nations in the past, the jubilee of our neighbors has something in common with cultural events in Belarus. Our country was the central territory of the Great Duchy of Lithuania during five centuries. This year it is planned to restore the Old Castle in Grodno where Vitovt and Stefan Batory lived and received ambassadors. Simultaneously restoration of Mirsky Castle is being finished, which is even a greater monument. This fortress was built in the style of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque and is considered the most beautiful castle on the territory of the former Great Duchy of Lithuania. Moreover, the castle became one of the symbols of Belarus long ago. Here concerts, shows, tilting matches and conferences have been traditionally held for several years. Foreign guests admire architectural beauty gifted by medieval Belarusian architects.

According to many observers, the Year of native land shall help Belarusian people and foreign guests who are going to visit the country to realize that there is no surprise that Belarus is a rich country. Our nation is a modern civil community which began to be formed a thousand years ago as well as other European nations.

One more monument which is going to be restored this year is an evidence of Belarusian high culture. This is the Church of the Saints Boris and Gleb in Grodno. In the XIIth century it was built on the bank of the Neman. The temple walls were made of special bricks typical of the medieval clerical architecture of Russia, the Balkans and Byzantium (present Greece and Turkey). It testifies to the fact that long ago Belarus participated in common European processes and wasn’t the periphery of oecumene as one would think. Moreover, scientists and geodesists admitted that the oldest city of the country Polotsk is the Geographical Center of Europe. This fact is more than eloquent.

This year Belovezhskaya puscha celebrates its 600th anniversary. The oldest reserve of Europe — such a status of the national park was recognized on a high level. This object of nature, as well as Mirsky castle, was included into the UNESCO’s List of World Heritage. According to experts’ estimations, the wealth of Belarusian nature is as unique as its historical and cultural legacy. The territory of the country is equal to the territory of Great Britain, but here six times less people live! Great areas free from cities and agricultural lands look the same as many thousand years ago. Wonder of savage scenery — this is how ecologists characterize Belarusian land. No wonder: there are original birds in Polesye, aurochs in Belavezha, blue eyes of lakes and windows of water along the Pripyat and the Dvina. There is plenty of cranberries on those swamps! And herbs on the fields! Berries and mushrooms in forests! Experts admitted that on the world tourist exhibition in London, which was held this autumn, ecological tourism in Belarus might become a very serious factor of economy development of the country.

Thus, Belarus attracts guests from abroad by its nature, architecture and people given to humanity by this country situated in the center of Europe. Adam Mitskevich, an outstanding poet, Ignaty Domeyko, a geologist and a national hero of Chile, Mark Chagall, a famous painter, Zhores Alferov, a scientist and Nobel laureate — these people came from Novogrudok and Vitebsk area. From Belarus!

It is impossible to mention those politicians and public figures given by Belarus — from a chancellor of the XVIth century Lev Sapega to the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrey Gromyko. Those facts seem to be commonly known. However, it would be appropriate to recollect them in the Year of the native land to remember which people were brought up here and to be proud of our Motherland. It will be a possibility for the neighbors to estimate a real role of Belarus and its potential in Europe and in the world.

Viktor Korbut
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