Posted: 12.12.2023 11:20:00

Mutually beneficial co-operation for the sake of development and the benefit of peoples

Belarus is ready to lend a strong shoulder to its African partners — this was discussed during the visits of the Belarusian Head of State Aleksandr Lukashenko to Equatorial Guinea and Kenya

The President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, and the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

At the airport of the capital city of Malabo, the Belarusian leader was met by the Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Not only officials, but also numerous local residents and creative groups were waiting for Aleksandr Lukashenko here. Traditional songs and rousing African dances — the host country did everything to add not only equatorial warmth to Aleksandr Lukashenko’s meeting but the atmosphere of sincere friendship and hospitality. 
After the official ceremony with the singing of anthems and a company of honour guard, negotiations between the President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko and the President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo began.
During a conversation in a limited format, the Head of the Belarusian State said that he sees great potential for the development of Equatorial Guinea. Belarus is ready to co-operate, share its experience and technologies in various spheres, and help train personnel.
Later, negotiations took place in an expanded format — with the participation of members of delegations. The Head of the Belarusian State noted that it was his first visit to Central Africa, and he was impressed with what he had seen in this part of the beautiful African continent. 
“Beautiful forests, rivers, the Atlantic Ocean with rich fish reserves. These are truly heavenly treasures… You live in paradise. But the greatest treasure of any country is its people. It is equally applicable both to Belarus and to Equatorial Guinea. Kind, hardworking people, who genuinely wish to take care of their native land, people, who are open to new knowledge, experience, people, who truly feel their friends and like-minded persons. Within the last six months we’ve secured an impressive leap. We’ve exchanged visits at the top level, created a joint permanent commission on co-operation, held the commission’s first session, and substantially invigorated business activity,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. 
The Head of the Belarusian State added that a Belarusian embassy will soon start working in Malabo. An embassy of Equatorial Guinea is expected to open in Belarus by the end of 2024. 
“It is a great honour to have such a friend. Belarus is a reliable partner for Equatorial Guinea. We bolster our friendship not only with words but with deeds. We have no differences of opinion in politics. Furthermore, we have no topics we’d rather not discuss. Mutually beneficial, friendly, and even brotherly relations develop dynamically between our countries,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

During the negotiations Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned the rapid advancement of co-operation in healthcare. Belarusian specialists have started training personnel in Equatorial Guinea hospitals. 
The President of Belarus mentioned the need to actively use opportunities in the humanitarian sphere — education, science, sport, tourism, and culture — in order to bring the two nations even closer to each other. The Belarusian side is interested in importing Equatorial Guinea cocoa, tropical vegetables and fruits, in the joint processing of fish products.
“Belarus is ready to become a bridge to Eurasia for your country. We count on reciprocal support within the framework of the African Union and other integration associations. Certainly, we didn’t come into your country to offer charity. We cannot do it, and we do not have to do it. But we are not going to profiteer at the expense of your people, your country either. We are no colonisers. We are your friends. As we share technologies in many areas where you need them, we will train your people how to use these technologies,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarusians have come to Equatorial Guinea as friends. He suggested doing everything necessary in order to expand co-operation onto other countries of the region, “I would very much like for you and us to do everything so that we could bring the technologies we will introduce here, in Equatorial Guinea to other countries of the African continent. We have to help the countries that desire prosperity for their nations and development for their states. I think it’s within our power to realise.”

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has awarded Aleksandr Lukashenko the Order of Independence of Equatorial Guinea — one of the highest state awards in the country

At the end of the official negotiations and the document signing ceremony, an official reception was held in honour of the President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko on behalf of the President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
“The world is changing. It will never be the same. There will never be a return to the way it was. The people of the world are realising this. Most of them have realised that Africa is the future. Africa’s time has come. Frankly speaking, it will be very difficult for countries like Equatorial Guinea and Belarus to stand alone in this turbulent world. In order not just to withstand, but to occupy our place in this rapidly changing world, in order not to perish, we must stay close to each other. Only together, walking shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, we will be able to stand ground,” the Belarusian leader said.

At the end of the negotiations in Malabo, Presidents Aleksandr Lukashenko and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo signed  a roadmap for the development of co-operation between the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

The roadmap was developed taking into account the needs of Equatorial Guinea and is comprehensive in nature. The document covers 15 key areas of interaction, including co-operation projects, supplies of Belarusian machinery and its maintenance, agriculture, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and sales of medical equipment, forestry. The roadmap is designed for implementation in 2024–2026.
A package of documents aimed at developing co-operation in various areas was also signed in the presence of the Heads of State.
Agreements were signed on the promotion and mutual protection of investments, on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of evasion of income and property taxes, on co-operation and mutual assistance in customs matters.
The parties also signed agreements on co-operation in the field of tourism, on mutual recognition of educational documents, and on co-operation in the field of science and technology. In addition, a number of documents have been concluded at the interdepartmental level, including memorandums of co-operation and mutual understanding.
In total, one and a half dozen bilateral documents were signed.

The capital city of Equatorial Guinea Malabo

In his statement following the meeting, the President of Belarus called the negotiations with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo very meaningful

Belarus focused on what it can offer to Equatorial Guinea, what problems can be resolved taking into account Belarus’ experience and knowledge. 
“As a result of the visit and negotiations without an exaggeration we started a new stage of Belarus-Equatorial Guinea relations. Within only a year we’ve done the work many countries take decades to accomplish. This fact very clearly indicates mutual interest and eagerness to advance the partnership to a brand new level,” the Belarusian leader stated.
In his words, as far as the practical side is concerned, key avenues were determined where the parties will work hard taking into account Belarus’ capabilities and aspirations of African colleagues. 
“I would like to note specifically that agreements were reached on realising the first stage of creation of a regional hub for promoting Belarusian goods onto markets of the countries in Central and Western Africa,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
Belarus has also offered grants to Equatorial Guinea students for going to medical education institutions in Belarus’ territory. Apart from that, the healthcare ministries agreed on organising the retraining of Equatorial Guinea medics in Belarus.
Summing up the negotiations, the Head of the Belarusian State expressed several theses, which he discussed with the leadership of Equatorial Guinea. 
“The country should not spend foreign currency on buying the products and goods Equatorial Guinea can make. It is an axiom. I have to say that no, we are not a gigantic country, but we have enough technologies in agriculture, manufacturing sector, and so on in order to take Equatorial Guinea to the next level or two if the country uses them. And we are ready not to simply come and grab a piece of the pie as colonialists did in the past. We are ready to teach people in Equatorial Guinea how to use these technologies as a result of our co-operation. We will pass on what we know how to do to the people of Equatorial Guinea. What the nation of this country knows how to do will be passed on to us. Including goods. It is what this co-operation is all about. We will co-operate in the name of our nations. All the problems Equatorial Guinea needs to deal with right now Belarus had to resolve 30 years ago. We are familiar with all of it,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that right now Equatorial Guinea does not need some high technologies. For instance, this country does not need to launch spacecraft into outer space. The realisation of more down-to-earth but extremely necessary projects is the idea.
The President stated that the documents signed by the parties are of a general nature, but to develop these documents, they have already agreed on 74 specific projects — they will be implemented in the next 2–3 years.
In his speech following the negotiations, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo noted the large number of signed agreements and the seriousness of intentions to implement the agreements, which is demonstrated by Belarus. 
“We gained political independence, but economy remains a limiting factor. There are countries that don’t want Africa to develop. Countries that bring instability, that invent all kinds of changes in order to exploit our resources. But Africans are waking up. We already see that we have been deceived. We are disappointed. And where we had hope, we will be unable to get anything from our former colonisers,” Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo stated.

On the second day of the official visit, the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, arrived on the mainland of Equatorial Guinea from the island capital city of Malabo

The aircraft of the Belarusian Head of State landed at the airport of Mengomeyen. Aleksandr Lukashenko was welcomed by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at the airport. He invited the Belarusian leader to see the new capital of Equatorial Guinea, Ciudad de la Paz, which name is translated from Spanish as the City of Peace.
The Presidents decided to travel around the future capital in one car. During the drive through the future capital, the President of Equatorial Guinea showed the Belarusian Head of State the Afro-American University of Central Africa, the La Paz Oyala Hospital, and the Government House.
The leaders continued their talks over an informal lunch. Despite the less official format Aleksandr Lukashenko and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo continued a serious conversation about the advancement of bilateral co-operation.
The Belarusian Head of State also spoke to the First Lady of Equatorial Guinea Constancia Mangue de Obiang, who had already visited Belarus, and who oversees the medical sector in her country.
Equatorial Guinea is located in Central Africa, on the west coast of the continent. As you know, with the discovery of oil fields in the mid-90s, the economy of Equatorial Guinea underwent dramatic changes. Previously, it was of an agricultural, raw material, plantation nature, but now over 90 percent of state budget revenues come from the oil and gas sector.
The country consists of the continental part and islands in the Gulf of Guinea (total area is about 28 thousand sq. km, including the mainland — 26 thousand sq. km). On the largest island — Bioko — is the capital — the city of Malabo, where Aleksandr Lukashenko arrived the day before and where official negotiations took place with the President of the country Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Currently, a project is being implemented in Equatorial Guinea to build a new capital of the country, which is intended to replace Malabo in this status. It is expected that renewable energy sources will play a larger role in urban development. 

At the end of the official visit to Equatorial Guinea, Belarus President’s aircraft headed for Kenya, with Aleksandr Lukashenko arriving in Nairobi on a working visit

The President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, and the President of Kenya, William Ruto

The leaders of the countries agreed to meet in early December in Dubai on the sidelines of the World Summit on Climate Change.
At the capital’s airport, the Head of the Belarusian State was met by Kenyan Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development Mithika Linturi. In June, he together with the trade, investment, and industry minister of Kenya came to Belarus in June. During meetings with relevant government agencies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs back then the parties discussed co-operation in agriculture, including the mechanisation and industrialisation of processes, deliveries of machines, vehicles, fertilisers, and personnel training.
Kenyan President William Ruto warmly greeted Aleksandr Lukashenko and said, “We are very glad that you found the time to visit us. I understand that the visit will be brief, but nevertheless it is no less cordial on our part. This is not an official visit. Nevertheless, it gives us the opportunity to plan an official visit. We are very glad that you have found the time to visit us and be with us today.”
The Kenyan leader recalled that during the meeting at the global climate summit in Dubai the heads of state agreed on the need to intensify contacts between Belarus and Kenya, “We agreed that we will jointly look at our opportunities and areas where we could co-operate and build relations on the basis that we have created between our two countries.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested working out a roadmap to advance co-operation with Kenya, “We agreed in Dubai that we would meet and discuss our first steps to establish trade, economic and closer political relations.”
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, it is now necessary to determine avenues of future co-operation and come up with some concrete plan for these avenues,
“If we want to co-operate, then I am sure that we will be able to develop such a plan, a roadmap, as we have done with other countries of the African continent. Mr. President, you have to know that if we come to an agreement, we will quickly go this way. Because your country holds a very important strategic position in Africa.
 You determine the policy of the African continent to a large degree. The President of Equatorial Guinea told me about this.”
Taking into account the fact that a decision was made at the highest level to intensify bilateral relations, the Head of State suggested that groups of specialists from Belarus and Kenya exchange visits, get to know the countries better to prepare a concrete action plan for the development of co-operation.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also invited his Kenyan counterpart to visit Belarus. “I will be glad to see you at any time. I hope that you will find time to visit Minsk in the first half of next year.”
At the end of the tete-a-tete meeting, William Ruto invited his Belarusian colleague to dinner.

Based on materials of and
Photos by belta