Posted: 08.02.2023 11:03:00

Inside information of the large foreign tour of the President

The recent foreign tour of the Belarusian Head of State, Aleksandr Lukashenko, which included visits to the regions of the Middle East and South Africa, attracted great attention from the media and political experts both in Belarus and abroad. Press Secretary of the Belarusian Head of State Natalya Eismont shared with journalists some insider information and new previously unknown details of the meetings and negotiations. Here are some of the key quotes.

Press Secretary of the President Natalya Eismont during a conversation with journalists

Large trip that claims to be unprecedented

— A lot has been said and shown about the visit of our Head of State to the UAE and Zimbabwe. But, probably, there is something left behind the scenes… Still, what was the schedule of the Head of State during these busy days?
— I would say that this large trip of the Head of State can be called unprecedented. First, as journalists of the presidential pool, you know that it is extremely rare that the President leaves the country for so long. The reason must be very good for this. Negotiations and plans must be worth it. That was how it was this time.
We can say that this large trip of the Head of State consisted of three parts. A visit to the United Arab Emirates, then a state visit to Zimbabwe and back to the UAE.
If we talk about the first part, most of it, almost all the work of the Head of State, was, in fact, hidden from anyone’s eyes. It wasn’t public. But at the same time, it was a very, very intense process. I will speak in general terms. The work plan for this first part of the visit was not only 100 percent completed. It was exceeded.
There were two main items on the agenda. Of course, it was security. This is something that the whole world, all countries without exaggeration, are concerned about today.
At the airport, the Head of State was welcomed by the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, the brother of the current Head of State. You know that such things happen for a reason. A brief meeting took place at the airport. Then, the discussion of the topic of security continued.
The second item on the agenda of the first part of the visit was economy. There were very different meetings.
Let’s start with the largest investment project that the United Arab Emirates is implementing in our country — the famous Northern Waterfront project worth $5 billion in investments. The President held a meeting with the management of the company. They had a lot of things to talk over. Various questions and nuances were clarified. Deadlines were also specified. The President would like the project to peak up steam faster.
Further, without naming specific topics or names I will say that the Head of State held a meeting with Russian businessmen in the United Arab Emirates, and even with Belarusian businessmen who asked for a meeting.

During the World Expo 2020, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai reflected the colours of the Belarusian flag in honour of the national day of the country. November 22nd, 2021.

 The future belongs to Africa

— Regarding the state visit to Zimbabwe… What prospects does it open for Belarus?
— A lot has already been said about the visit to Zimbabwe. Indeed, this visit was very widely covered in the media. And rightly so. The future belongs to Africa. You all know perfectly well that our Head of State say such theses for a reason.
Answering your question, I would like to dwell not on contracts — a lot has been said about hundreds of millions of US dollars, the results of the business forum, and so on — but on contacts. This is, in principle, the thesis that, in my view, describes this large presidential tour. All the past ten days. Contacts were the most important thing for us. They, of course, then turn into results. 
With regard to Zimbabwe, I mean the things that have not been made public: these were defence and security issues… 
I can also mention the third day of the visit. Victoria Falls. Of course, our media showed these stunning views of Zimbabwe’s nature. They paid attention to it in the first place. However, I would like to say that there were informal meetings there, too, and the Presidents talked a lot. One of the main topics on the third day of the visit was co-operation in healthcare. 
You have already written a lot about food security in your reports. It is ensured. It is, of course, very important. We continue to work in this direction. Here we have a follow-up topic on healthcare: maternal and infant mortality.
This is the area in healthcare where Belarus has very good results. Here we can help our Zimbabwean friends: to support the babies who have just been born, feed them, and so on. The Presidents talked a lot about the topic and also about other areas in healthcare…
Of course, we show interest in different areas in Zimbabwe. Mineral extraction is among them… The supply of cotton raw materials is an important area of co-operation for us. 
Speaking of prospects, and I would like to emphasise it, the most important thing is the prospect of co-operation of Belarus with the entire south of Africa. That is the most important thing we should talk about today. This visit to Zimbabwe is, of course, the first stone in the foundation of our relations with this region.
I’ll share with you one piece of inside information that journalists love the most. Just on the third day of the visit, the President of Zimbabwe told the Belarusian Head of State that he received calls from a dozen of Heads of State — leaders of the countries of Southern Africa just at the end of the main negotiating day. They keep in very close contact with each other. They all had one question: how did Zimbabwe manage to bring Lukashenko and carry out such a fundamental and eventful visit. Furthermore, they all expressed willingness to establish close co-operation with the Belarusian Head of State, with our country. 
Belarus has a lot to offer these countries. There are also things that we are interested in Southern Africa. I can give you an example: when speaking to journalists at a press conference, our President mentioned Mozambique. This is the country we are already entering, including with the help of Zimbabwe. This is something that is already in happening. Food security issues are also very important there. We can participate in that country’s projects. It is already a very concrete discussion. Our focus is on co-operation with the entire Southern Africa.

About capital, mansions and sons

— If we return to the topic of the UAE visit, the negotiations with the President were held in a friendly atmosphere too. What are the results? Here we, too, were bombarded with an inflow of fake news about capital, mansions, sons and so on…
— As originally planned, after the state visit to Zimbabwe, the Head of State returned to the United Arab Emirates and met with UAE President… The meeting lasted four hours and was held in a friendly atmosphere. It all speaks for itself.
I cannot reveal any new details of these negotiations today. There is a specificity of the moment. 
We all understand that the results that the whole country and people will feel in the future will be much louder than the words that we can say today. We have outlined areas: trade, economy, investment and humanitarian dimension. They are closely intertwined. It was a very, very promising conversation.
As for fake news... Foremost, I would like to address the topic of sons. Or rather, the eldest son and the reason why Viktor Lukashenko is generally present among the members of the delegation. Every country has its own specificities, including in building diplomatic co-operation. For the countries of the Arab world, this is a very special status, a special level of trust, when relations are supervised by someone from the family of the leader, the Head of State. Especially if it is a son or eldest son. This initially sets a special tone of co-operation. This raises the bar as much as possible…
A long time ago, when we were starting to build these relations on the initiative of the United Arab Emirates, our Head of State decided that his eldest son would oversee these issues. At that time, Victor Aleksandrovich held the post of President’s Aide for National Security. It fitted perfectly into the whole framework of our relations.
When Viktor Lukashenko switched to public service, there was certainly some discussion of how to build co-operation in the future. It was decided not to change anything. There was no need to change anything there. I would reiterate that for that region it is very important to have an absolutely trustworthy person to be in charge of these relations. 
As for mansions, capitals, and so on, you know that our President answered all these questions a long time ago. I will only repeat what the President said many years ago: 
As for capitals — if someone, who is now trying hard to find them (and in fact, only writes about it), finds them, can have them immediately. If they find this very mansion, let them move into it tomorrow. But why tomorrow? They could do today. As a matter of fact, that is how it is, and nothing more.

According to  BELTA