Ring to refresh the capital
First, second and third stages of road now complete, relieving congestion in Minsk
Having cut the red ribbon, the President has opened the second ring road. Just last year, Alexander Lukashenko ordered work to begin. The final 160km still needs to be completed but there’s no doubt that the benefits are multi-fold.
The first section of the Minsk ring road was designed for a capacity of 20,000 cars an hour. However, rush hour brings up to 120,000, and a state of extreme congestion. The new road will allow the capital to ‘breathe’ while easing the ecological burden. Of course, the likelihood is that the volume of transport will increase with time. Owing to well-known events, Ukraine has lost its transit attractiveness. Meanwhile, the road infrastructure across the Baltic States is insufficiently developed. Belarus has become the optimum route connecting West and East. In addition, Belarus is to become part of the Chinese Silk Way, focusing our attention on road building.
2016 will see the launch of another major project: the reconstruction of the Minsk-Grodno motorway. Also, work will begin at a number of other sites, including new roads through towns, to help stimulate their development. President Lukashenko insistently recommends developing the road network, to help bring people to settlements. This means new workplaces and sources of income.
The President is keen to attract untied credits, such as that agreed with the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, for $7 billion of untied credit, for spending on goods and services. The money won’t leave the country, but will work for the economy, helping us overcome crisis trends, and inspiring growth. Building companies are being given strict charges to lower expenses to the minimum, and must comply with tender rules to win contracts. Our participants (state or private) need to formulate offers unequivocally more favourable than those from abroad.
By Mikhail Fiodorov
Having opened the new site, the President chatted to employees and Minsk Region residents, touching upon some important themes:
We’ve endured a period of sanctions, which are now sending Russia into a fever. We’ve kept to our traditional course of sovereignty and independence, despite being just an average (according to world standards) state, modest in size. We endeavour to establish world order though we know our place. We have the right to vote and are founding members of the United Nations. We are proud people. In the last war alone, we lost one third of our population, to prevent ‘fascism’ from conquering the whole world. Therefore we deserve respect.
Those who introduced sanctions initially didn’t want to talk to us. Now, they do, having understood that sanctions lead nowhere. They’ve seen that we’ve endured. The Ukrainian crisis has demonstrated that if you start destroying everything, Belarus may also catch fire but it won’t be desirable. It’s the centre of Europe. Suddenly, we’ve sobered up. We don’t mind. Let’s talk. However, remember that we have national interests and we won’t depart from these.
We are a sovereign, independent state building normal relations with our neighbours. No neighbour will say that we’ve created problems. However, we won’t give anyone our land. Based on these principles, I’ve continued to negotiate with leaders of other states. I should say, these negotiations have been successful and positive, with the Europeans and Americans.