ZHITOMIR, 3 October (BelTA) – The 2nd Forum of Regions of Belarus and Ukraine is underway in Zhimotir, Ukraine on 3-4 October. It is expected that taking part in it will be representatives of the government bodies and businessmen, local authorities and also the heads of state of the two countries, BelTA has learned.
Large machines and vehicles made by 15 Belarusian companies and ten Ukrainian ones are currently on display in the center of Zhitomir. A trade show of Belarusian and Ukrainian arts and crafts is held nearby.
The program of the forum on 3 October includes a meeting of the bilateral consultative council of business cooperation, talks between representatives of Ukrainian and Belarusian companies, a session of the joint commission to coordinate issues related to the protection and sustainable use of cross-border nature reserves, and an eco-forum.
Specialists will discuss issues of mutual trade in part of using veterinary and sanitary events. An official meeting will take place between the heads of the regions of Ukraine and Belarus and the head of the Zhitomir Oblast State Administration. The program of the forum will also feature a panel discussion on the development of river navigation on the Dnieper and the Pripyat, a forum and an exhibition of high technology, robotics, mechatronics and start-ups. The Belarusian State University will showcase some 20 projects, including a model of a university nanosatellite, at the exhibition.
In the evening Zhitomir will host a concert of friendship featuring performers from Belarus and Ukraine.
A plenary session featuring representatives of the governments and local authorities of the two countries will take place in Zhitomir on 4 October. Presidents Aleksandr Lukashenko and Volodymyr Zhelensky are expected to attend the forum on the same day.
During the meeting with representatives of the Ukrainian mass media in Minsk on 26 September the Belarusian president said that the Forum of Regions of Belarus and Ukraine is important not only for the two countries but also for him personally. He recalled that two years ago the government of Ukraine upheld this idea and a year later the forum debuted in Gomel. “The results were not long in coming. Such events help build important interregional ties, first of all, in trade and economy,” the head of state said.
In his words, trade and economic cooperation is the pillar of Belarus-Ukraine partnership and the two countries have made substantial progress in this field. In 2018, the bilateral trade came close to $5.5 billion. “There are joint ventures and many common infrastructure projects. We have developed close cooperation ties. I should say that this process is gaining momentum,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He also said that the upcoming meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would be a good opportunity to get acquainted with each other's stance on different matters. “I promise I will be sincere. I am known to be an honest man, and I am used to speaking my mind,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Referring to the topics that will be discussed in Zhitomir, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that any interstate relations have their own agenda. “The economy and joint projects will be on the agenda of our negotiations. For example (this is not the main thing), missile engineering is an important topic for us. We have already started to build a new missile but we do not have enough competences, experienced people. You have them. We do not need an intercontinental missile to build. Why not discuss this project and instruct specialists to work this issue through,” the president said. "The issue of hydrocarbons is also very important for you and for us,” he added.
It is expected that a number of documents will be signed at the forum to boost interregional cooperation in various fields, as well as agreements between companies. The event was preceded by hard work at the level of regions, companies and organizations, and some of the future results are already known.
It has already been reported that the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee plans to sign agreements on trade, economic, sci-tech and cultural cooperation with the administrations of Odessa Oblast, Vinnitsa Oblast and Cherkasy Oblast. Gomel Oblast companies are expected to sign contracts worth more than $40 million. Agreements on cooperation will be signed by Grodno Oblast and Volyn Oblast. Brest Oblast will sign agreements on trade, economic, sci-tech and cultural cooperation with Volyn Oblast and Zakarpatye Oblast. Pinsk and Ternopol plan to conclude an agreement on partnership and cooperation.