By Denis Kopylov
The delegation arriving in Minsk looked at a wide range of issues: from culture and arts to serious joint business projects. Speaking to President Lukashenko, Mr. Poltavchenko discussed the shared characteristics of residents of Belarus and St. Petersburg. Mr. Lukashenko primarily noted our shared mid-20th century war time history, since Leningrad was affected especially severely. Like Belarusians, they suffered greatly and emerged stronger.
Meanwhile, Mr. Poltavchenko recollected that Leningrad architects placed their soul into rebuilding Minsk, having helped restore the post-war city, which was burnt to ashes. We became strong friends long ago, so it’s only fitting that we continue, collaborating where possible. The Belarusian President stressed, “We’ve never separated ourselves from Russia — let alone, from Leningrad-St. Petersburg. This is sacred for us.”
He added that, in Soviet times, Belarus, Leningrad and Moscow were connected by the closest ties of co-operation. Our food supplies served these two most important Russian cities. “I believe, we have great experience in this respect. We shouldn’t move away from this; rather, we should restore it,” he emphasised, outlining prospects.
Mr. Lukashenko underlined that Belarus is ready for any form of collaboration with St. Petersburg — not only regarding sales but joint manufacturing in all branches: agriculture, machine building and science-intensive sphere. The Belarusian Head of State was concise and unambiguous in noting, “At present, St. Petersburg needs to interact with Belarus in particular areas. You should describe your interests clearly, so that we can consider them immediately and make decisions.”
Mr. Poltavchenko picked up on the topic of food supplies, as St. Petersburg experiences some problems in this area. Large trading chains play decisive role on local food market, with imports forming the bulk of wholesale purchases. Belarusian products are the most superior in quality, as St. Petersburg residents are well aware. Accordingly, an agreement to open up new opportunities for the supply of Belarusian food products to St. Petersburg may solve the problem.
Many other mutually interesting topics were to the fore — including the creation of strong transport and logistics structures and collaboration in passenger travel. St. Petersburg’s Governor is confident that our liaisons will be extensive, “The most vital thing is to ensure that our potential develops further; we have the chance to trade while creating science-intensive produce. We have real opportunities for co-operation.”
Evidently, Belarusian-Russian relations are intensifying at regional and top levels, as proven by the recent CSTO and CIS summits in Moscow and the decision of Vladimir Putin in selecting Minsk for his first official visit as president. The strategic interest of both countries lies in constructive partnership.