Aleksandr Lukashenko called Russian Bashkortostan ‘a close region’ and stressed, “I am definitely glad to welcome you in Belarus. I am especially happy since – due to a global pandemic when all sorts of trips and contacts are very limited – you have risked to come to the centre of Europe. As you can see, the situation here is normal, stable.”
The President drew parallels between Belarus and Bashkortostan, “Lands there are absolutely the same as in Belarus. Outwardly, Bashkortostan looks just like our Belarus. Therefore, these lands are close to us.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Ufa is a friendly city for us, and he would like to visit the city – not simply as a guest. He stressed that kind, hardworking people live in Bashkortostan and they are similar to Belarusians.
At the same time, the Head of State emphasised another important factor, “We enjoy quite a good turnover. The economies of our republics are greatly interrelated. We enjoy not simply an interest – but also pragmatic interest… Therefore, this visit of such a representative delegation at a difficult time is, openly speaking, significant for us.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko outlined the priorities of bilateral co-operation with this Russian region, “Our main task is obvious and quite solvable: to restore pre-crisis trading indicators as soon as possible. From January-September 2021, our trade turnover made $280m – decreasing by 16 percent against the same period last year. Although our exports to the region have increased by around 6 percent, the negative balance still makes about $60m. Therefore, we have something to work on. Your visit to Belarus, I think, will contribute to the equalising of trade turnover between Bashkortostan and Belarus.”
The President added, “I do not think that the reasons for the decline in trade are only due to a certain pandemic and the related restrictions – although this also matters. Our relationship has been tested for decades. We should not allow any western sanctions or COVID to destroy our relations. They will actually not be destroyed. Your visit to our country is a proof of this.”