The number of political events organised last month would have been enough for the whole year, being filled with top level meetings, summits and visits.
The first event of note was a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (at the level of heads of state) and the CIS Heads of State Council session, hosted by the newly-constructed Palace of Independence in the Belarusian capital. Viewed by experts as a turning point, it featured key resolutions in the move towards integration for the ‘troika’ of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. Without exaggeration, all post-Soviet territory is affected by this new geopolitical reality. During the CIS Heads of State Council meeting, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko proposed additional mechanisms to bolster economic co-operation. As part of its chairmanship of the CIS in 2013, Belarus is focused on ‘integration for public benefit’. Read Eurasian Space: View from Minsk and Convenient Venue for Dialogue to learn details of these important meetings.
The meeting between the presidents of Ecuador and Belarus in Minsk also opened a new page. Mr. Lukashenko paid his first official visit to Ecuador in 2012, with President Rafael Correa showing interest in our closer co-operation for mutual benefit. The return visit by Mr. Correa confirmed previously announced intentions and, pleasantly, our Latin American guest showed that he has been researching Belarusian history. He regrets that few Latin Americans are aware of the self-sacrifice and heroic contribution made by our nation in helping liberate the world from Nazism. Read further in Geography of Partnership.
President Lukashenko’s official visit to Ashgabat, to meet the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, showed that no obstacles exist to our inter-state relations, which are built on mutual trust and a shared vision. Mr. Lukashenko and Mr. Berdymukhamedov had previously agreed to meet annually to discuss joint projects, as explained in Exemplary Relations, which describes how Belarus and Turkmenistan are strengthening multi-lateral collaboration.
Political life is intensive, but sport can be just as unifying a power. Not even 200 days remain until Minsk hosts the 2014 IIHF World Championship, bringing a construction boom to the capital: new hotels, roads and sports facilities. The city is changing in front of our eyes and lives in anticipation of the grand event. Of course, all potential problems need to be foreseen in advance, so that the May tournament is remembered for the right reasons! True Holiday Mood tells us more about the preparations underway for the World Ice Hockey Championship.
Looking at statistics, we cannot deny that Belarus boasts neither oil nor gas, nor other mineral deposits, in any abundance. However, one branch annually generates over $2bn of exports: agriculture. In terms of gross grain harvest per capita, only Ukraine, with its famous black earth, and Kazakhstan, known for its virgin soil, surpass us. Our usual harvest is one tonne of grain per resident. Meanwhile, Belarus is the undisputed leader in the dairy industry across the CIS, being ranked fourth worldwide, in terms of milk production per capita. Discover more amazing figures in To Advance, It`s Necessary To Run Faster Than Time: statistics can sometimes be more fascinating than belles-lettres!
By ViKtor Kharkov