It’s no coincidence that St. John Chrysostom called Christmas the ‘mother of all holidays’. This is a day that gives us all the light of faith and hope while filling our hearts with warm feelings of joy and mercy. It also gives us an opportunity to contemplate another period of our lives. In this respect, the President’s visit to the Christmas service at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk on January 7th was deeply symbolic. Alexander Lukashenko’s traditional presence at the church on such a day wasn’t limited to lighting Christmas candles and offering congratulations to parishioners and the clergy. In an impromptu speech, the President addressed the congregation with heartfelt and spiritual thoughts on the most vital and pressing issues of modern society.
On the most important issues
We see many difficult issues in our country. Therefore, our first thought is for God to protect us and to help keep our country safe. We cannot ask for more. The future of our country will depend on us making things happen ourselves.
On the essence of state policy
I promise that everything the state is able to do will be done for the nation. However, it will be in addition to the things you are able to do for yourselves, your families and children. Our policy will primarily focus on children and elderly people. We will do everything we can to protect every person, and make their lives longer and more comfortable.
On fundamental issues
We will continue to live in an absolutely democratic society, no matter how much we are criticised. Those who criticised us should be silent now as they see that Belarus has no less democracy and human rights than other countries. I have always talked about the main thing being the right to live safely. It is not a democracy when shooting is heard in the streets every day and many people are killed each year.
On the Church’s role
Today the Church in Belarus is one of the strongholds of our state. It offers a balance in our society along with other public authorities and organisations. The Church has been and continues to be one of our backbones. However, everyone should understand that the Church acts and functions under the conditions of a sovereign and independent state…Apart from its beautiful buildings and cathedrals, the Church has been part of the soul of the nation and it will always remain so. No one will be allowed to destroy the unity of our Church.
Yes, we’re part of the Orthodox world that is called the Russian Orthodox church. We don’t aim for indistinct autonomy and independence. I will say openly however, and this will be the subject of my discussions with the clergy, that the Church should develop. It needs to improve and I aim to encourage it to do this and hopefully this will not cause controversy.
On life in the new year
The new year will be difficult. It is not because we don’t work hard but because the world is changing. It’s hard sometimes to adjust to the knowledge that the things we value today may be different tomorrow. Our aim is to protect our people and to give them security and a normal life is a sacred one and one we must strive for.
On ill-considered reforms
It’s always difficult when various new theories appear: to reform, to destroy and then to create something new. We will continue to value the assets we have and not dismiss lightly everything that our people have worked hard to create, at the same time we must embrace change where necessary.
On the inviolability of principles
We’ll help those who need our assistance. We’ll continue to offer support in the way we did before, even if there must necessarily be budgetary constraints. We’ll have stricter policy for those who are able but don’t want to work. We’ll continue to pursue our well-balanced peaceful policy but will not allow any infringement of our territory, which we value and must preserve for the next generation.