Minsk–Managua: reaching a new level of co-operation
The President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, met with Nicaragua’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Denis Moncada Colindres
Welcoming the guest, the Head of State emphasised, “When I think about Nicaragua, I always consider that it is such a remote country that is yet very close for us. Evaluating our relations, I must say that we have an immense field of work. We have a lot to do to bring our relations to the highest level.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that there are already examples of such co-operation between Belarus and Latin America, “Take, for example, Cuba, Venezuela, other Latin American states with which we have very close political, trade and economic relations. I think we need to follow the same path in our relations with Nicaragua... We have everything in place today to build good, close relations. And even the legendary leader of Nicaragua, whom we all love and respect in Belarus.
I will ask you to convey best regards from the Belarusian people and me personally to Daniel Ortega. We admire his political activities.”
The President assured that Belarus has everything that Nicaragua needs, and even in abundance.
“While building our contacts, we need to create a legal framework for bilateral co-operation in the economy. This is a matter of time. I think if we get down to this now, we will be able to develop this legal framework and build deep economic contacts within a year. We are ready for this,” the Belarusian leader noted.
The Head of State suggested that Nicaragua’s Minister of Foreign Affairs analyse how Nicaragua can benefit from co-operation with Belarus and outline areas of co-operation.
“We are absolutely open for you, no topics are off limits. We will take your proposals on board,” the President said.
The Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Affairs, in turn, conveyed warm words to the Belarusian leader from the President of his country Daniel Ortega, “Big greetings from Comandante Daniel Ortega, brotherly greetings and best wishes... Thank you very much, Mr. President, our friend, our comrade. Our entire delegation welcomes you with all the warmth, with all the goodwill.”
Denis Moncada Colindres shared some details to journalists after meeting with the President of Belarus, “Mutual support and solidarity between the countries was confirmed, issues were discussed on the implementation of joint projects with the possibility of signing specific contracts for the supply of equipment and in other areas. First of all, we single out the sphere of technology, agriculture, co-operation in the field of education and mutual trade. Now we are talking about concretising the projects that we intend to implement between the two countries. The main goal is to create framework conditions, the necessary contractual and legal framework that will make it possible to implement these projects and further reach the implementation of other promising areas of co-operation.”
While answering the question from media representatives about the possibility of the Belarusian side’s participation in the implementation of a large-scale project for the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal, Denis Moncada Colindres said that they also discussed co-operation in the development of infrastructure projects at a meeting with the Belarusian leader, “I would like to note that the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project is running; it has not been put on hold. Therefore, of course, Belarus could also take part in infrastructure projects, including the project you have mentioned.”
According to experts, the Nicaraguan Canal is considered by the Government of this country as an alternative to the Panama Canal. Its full name is the Grand Interoceanic Canal. It is designed to connect the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and significantly relieve maritime traffic. The waterway is expected to be 278 kilometres long and over 500 metres wide. The project provides for the passage of 5,100 ships a year through the canal.
Belarus and Nicaragua are currently co-operating on the issue of supporting candidates for elections to UN bodies and other international organisations. Nicaragua is a member of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, which was established at the initiative of Belarus at the UN. The country is a co-sponsor of the Belarusian resolution to improve the co-ordination of efforts to combat trafficking in persons. In 2019, the Nicaraguan delegation co-sponsored a resolution promoted by Belarus on the Long-Term Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster.
However, the legal framework is still in the process of formation and has only a few international treaties. Accordingly, the mutual trade turnover is relatively small and last year amounted to $800,000. Trade and economic ties are based on deliveries of printed materials, spare parts for cars and tractors, tires from Belarus. In the structure of imports, the largest share was occupied by the supply of coffee, bananas and knitwear.
A number of bilateral documents were signed following the talks between Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Aleinik and Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Affairs Denis Moncada Colindres in Minsk. In particular, the general agreement between the two governments on the provision of export loans and the agreement on co-operation in education were signed. Belarus and Nicaragua intend to further develop the bilateral legal framework. For example, the countries are now working on draft agreements on trade and economic co-operation, promotion and mutual protection of investments, establishment of a joint committee on trade and economic co-operation, as well as on the abolition of visa requirements.