We are developing a model that focuses on individuals! This is the job of President and our authorities: we have never overlooked the citizen of Belarus. We have always been struggling for him and trying to help him, from fence building to struggle against corruption, desperate and harsh. This is why people have always backed the President whatever drawbacks.
As for agriculture, we have adopted a village restoration program, that is, the program to save villages. Such initiatives are essential for Russia; you must feel it better than anyone, for you live in the depth of the country.
Anyways, Muscovites should be aware of it, too, because journalists know the life. The program is based on the assumption that many technologies are outdated now. If we neglect rural areas now, there will be no one left there by the time we finally join the WTO. Our agriculture, to say nothing of Russian agriculture, will never manage to compete with western agricultural companies. We see the future, we are aware of the globalization and unification tendencies, we understand we will be unable to stay secure using tariff and non-tariff measures or duties, that’s why we decided to get back to the village. This is the key priority — to upgrade productions in crop growing and cattle-breeding in order to reduce net costs. We have to be able to compete both in prices and quality.
We will preserve our country as it is, and it will be getting better every month. We consider the coming presidential elections as an exam that not only the President will be taking, but also the Government, and all authorities. That’s the way we do it. This is an exam. And you have to get ready for it. We are getting ready not only to speak about our plans and prove that we are so charming in front of the cameras. The people have been watching us for ten years now. What are we going to speak about? We have to remind people of what has been done over these years and maybe tell them once again what we are going to do.
Dear friends, I would also like to warn you about the absurd allegations that some in the Russian Federation tend to spread now. They say the presidential elections in Belarus wholly depend on certain forces outside Belarus. Forget about it! Our elections depend only on Belarusian people! Belarus is a country that chose Russia to be its foreign political priority! This is clear to anyone!
This does not mean we are only interested in Russia, though. I plan to pay an official visit to China soon. We have great relations with the People’s Republic of China. They have always supported us. We have excellent relations with the Muslims, whether someone like it or not, especially with Arab states. Why have conflicts if we can boost mutual trade many times? We are guided by pragmatism in our foreign policy. But we have always remained with you [Russians]. I don’t have to prove it. But this does not mean we will become Russia’s 90th or 89th province. This will never happen! We want equality!
So don’t think that what happens here in Belarus is always orchestrated from the Kremlin. By no means. But the hypothetic defeat of the current authorities in Belarus would be a crashing blow on Russia.
By the way, those in high spheres in the USA, Europe and even in the UK claim they will recognize Lukashenko de-facto if he wins this time. I was quite happy and a bit puzzled when I received this information, to tell the truth. Enough of this pressure on Belarus, this is the center of Europe, and Europe does not profit from this pressure. These are counterproductive measures that have had no results whatsoever, I mean the results that the West would like to see here. So you have a tendency, and I always welcome this tendency.
One cannot say we neglected the recent events in France. However, we are not very concerned over the situation there. We have no reasons to worry, as we have no people from Northern Africa here. Those who come to Belarus from regions of the kind study here to get university diplomas and then choose whether to stay here or get back. They are educated economists, physicians and technicians, so we have no problems with them.
We are very particular about this issue. Belarus is a most multiethnic country, but this does not mean we overlook migration processes. We receive some 30,000 people every year, and about 1,500 leave the country for different reasons, not for social ones. But it is for social reasons that those who come come to stay in Belarus. They are for the most part Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians who get back to Belarus from Russia, Kazakhstan. We are always glad to see them here, we provide dwelling. Many of them prefer to go to the countryside, especially families with many children. These are Russian families. You may see them on TV, they are good families with five or six children. When I travel around Belarus I often stop by to see how they get along. We are happy for them. Why? Because wars killed so many Belarusians in this vast country. They say Belarus is small. Oh no, it isn’t! We have 10 million people, and we need 30 million, although we could feed 70 million. We have good land and favorable environment. There are no ethnical or religious conflicts here, and there will never be any!
As for the Union State, I swear Belarus is not stonewalling it. I would like to highlight the key issues. We signed the agreement on the union first, and then the Union State Treaty. The instruments of ratification were signed, too… The first legal document signed by President Vladimir Putin was the one to exchange these instruments, that is, President Putin absolutely supported the integration process! My friends, open the Treaty and read it! Have a good look at it to see who failed to meet obligations. In the annex we have some economic deals that provide equal conditions for our citizens, companies, business and capital.
The Treaty is the program of development of the Union State. What happened later? Vladimir Putin and I were against weakening the document by amendments to the Treaty or the Constitution Act. You must remember that people were given this idea: Lukashenko backs the Soviet Union model of the Union State, whereas Putin prefers to keep to the European Union model. That’s what happened. I have always been saying: why follow the European Union model if we are much more experienced. Let’s use our own methods and experience. But they say “Let’s use the European Union pattern.” We need consensus here, but we cannot reach it, because one party is for and the other is against. So we started to look for ways out. During our recent meeting in “Zavidovo” we agreed that if Russia did not aim at creating a strong Union State in which it would be granted considerable authorities, we could use the European Union model. I agreed, let’s make it look like the European Union and think what we can do with it.
Political parties may be strong only if they appear in the right time and conditions.
We have a majority voting system, any member of parliament knows his or her constituency and is elected there. So this may objectively slow down the development of the party system. Moreover, consider Russian and Belarusian polls: the Russians and Belarusians have the same attitude towards parties. Do they believe parties? No. And suddenly we have plenty of parties. Why? They are artificial parties. We don’t believe parties should be created artificially; this is why we have no party development and no “party flush”. We do not initiate the creation of parties artificially on the level of the President, the Government or officials. This should not be done artificially. This means time and money will be lost. Add the Belarusian mentality, and it will be clear. Belarus has 17 parties, and we do not prevent them from living or working. They take part in the elections, they unite, split, elect and re-elect their leaders. We don’t push them, we don’t restrain them.
Russian journalists comment on meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko
Yelena KOROTKAYA, editor-in-chief of “Elita Rossii” magazine, Moscow:
— This has been my second time in Belarus. My first trip was to the city of Mogilev, there was a whole group of journalists from Moscow. I was astounded by your country. This is a wonderful land, and these are wonderful people. We are the people that represent and express public opinion in our country, and we will be doing our best to support every endeavor of yours.
Mikhail ZEMSKOV, editor-in-chief of “Patriot” newspaper:
— Alexander Lukashenko managed to express what the whole nation feels: whatever they are doing to split the Russians and Belarusians, they will fail. It is clear that it would be very hard for our nations to survive if we are by ourselves.
Leonid TIMOFEYEV, editor, international information department of “Tribuna” newspaper:
— The questions that we asked and President Lukashenko’s answers deal with the pressing issues that we have in Russia. He managed to touch upon the matters of great concern. We got the information about the Belarusian model of social and economic development at first hand, and many of us would like such a model to be followed in our country. This is true for the agribusiness, municipal housing economy and privatization. The Union State is another moot point. People in Russia wonder why it is not working to the full. We saw what President thinks about it and now it is clear why the integration is not as fast as we would like to see it.
Lyudmila KONDRASHOVA of “Economic Philosophic Newspaper”:
— Most of the issues raised by President pertained to the prospects of the Union State. And there is certain concern about the future of the Union. On the one hand, we saw the achievements of your social and economic policies that were owing to self-sacrificing efforts and intellectual potential of your people. On the other hand, will you be able to retain this progress after you unite with a more powerful and quite different economic system? There is another important issue, the national idea. In your country we saw people implementing this idea through the slogan “For Strong and Prosperous Belarus!” The authorities, legal and social systems are all working to make this idea come true. This is a very persuasive example.
Yelena LYAKH: editor-in-chief of a news agency based in the Solnechnogorsk District, Moscow Region:
— We live in the vicinity of Moscow and often attend most important meetings. But it is in Belarus that we experienced real respect for journalists for the first time. And I am going to be objective about what I saw: the words and actions always come together. We met ordinary people during our trip, and we formed our opinion. But later President said the same thing. Belarus’ ideology allows for the deepest feelings of people.