Useful dialogue surely promises real progress

Minsk hosts Austrian-Belarusian-Russian Business Forum

Minsk hosts Austrian-Belarusian-Russian Business Forum

This is a significant event both for business circles of the three countries and in the context of economic interaction between the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union. During the meeting with the heads of the Austrian delegation — the First Deputy Chairman of the National Council of the Parliament of Austria (the Lower Chamber), Karlheinz Kopf and the President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Christoph Leitl — Alexander Lukashenko proposed a new stage in bilateral relations. The initiative received great encouragement from the officials at the meeting.

Out of all the Western European states, we’re proud to share an equal dialogue with Austria, in which business prevails over politics. Mr. Lukashenko believes that it’s no coincidence that, at the current stage, when our relationship with the EU and its separate countries is undergoing a time of change, good partnership events are taking place in Minsk. “On the one hand, there are representatives of the Eurasian Economic Union while on the other, there is the European Union in the form of Austria… A new stage in my life and the life of the society is likely to begin,” the President noted.

The President shared his opinion that, at the start of his first presidential term, he had held the opinion that the West had somehow distributed its roles in the post-Soviet space and Belarus received Austria. In this context the Austria-Belarus relationship has been rather successful. Technological and investment exchange is very efficient. Yes, at present, our foreign trade balance with Austria is negative but out of $300m of annual average imports from this country, the lion’s share is accounted for by investment import, i.e. technologies for the organisation of contemporary high-tech productions. The sphere of mutual interests is wood processing, the chemical industry, the production of construction materials and road infrastructure. The current forum is attended by world famous companies, specialising in the processing of meat and dairy produce, traditional power engineering and bio-energetics, metallurgy and medical technologies. We do have contemporary developments in all the above-mentioned spheres but even greater prospects are opening up.

“We need to open a new chapter and build on our existing co-operation,” proposed the President. “The only proviso is that those who come here should treat us as they would work in Austria. We’ll be protecting you in the same way as we do with our Belarusian companies. We’ll be doing everything to make you feel comfortable here. The same attitude towards our state and our people should be seen from Austrian businesses.”

Mr. Kopf agreed, affirming, “I believe our meeting is a fortuitous combination of circumstances.” The Austrian parliamentarian believes that we’re on the threshold of a new stage in collaboration. He told the President, “You’ve achieved a convincing victory in the Presidential elections. The EU has made the first step towards the abolition of sanctions. I’m convinced that other measures will soon follow and a new stage will begin in our relations.” Mr. Kopf admitted that he is pleased with the fact that Austria has traditionally played an important role in establishing contacts between Belarus and the EU in eliminating tension, “In this respect we’ve made a definite contribution and are pleased with it.”


DIRECT SPEECH


Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber:

The role of Belarus is an intermediary one, a bridge between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, between these large integration associations, aiming to create stable conditions for the functioning of economies while facilitating rapprochement between the EU and EAEU.

Alexander Nakhaenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

Thoughts that elections in Belarus are tiresome have no grounds. Everything is calm. Such a calm campaign indicates a stable society. It’s great that we haven’t seen any fighting or confrontation. I’ve been closely following the election campaign and appreciate the calm tone of candidates’ speeches, as well as their well-thought-out ideas. This constructive approach shows a high organisational level and a sense of personal responsibility for the peace and stability of Belarus.

By Denis Krymov

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