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10 March 2024, 22:01

Ambitious plans with Kazakhstan, Belarusian superwomen, staff modernization in President’s Week

 The work schedule of the Belarus president is always full of events. Aleksandr Lukashenko holds conferences and working meetings on the most topical matters concerning the country’s development, regularly visits the regions, goes on foreign trips and welcomes foreign guests, talks to reporters, signs decrees and laws. And even if there are no public events, it does not mean that the head of state does not work. It must be said that even when he relaxes, for instance, by playing ice hockey or chopping firewood, Aleksandr Lukashenko happens to find the time to give yet another instruction. All the decisions must be prompted by life, he likes to say.

The President’s Week project is intended for those, who want to keep up with the head of state, be up-to-date on the latest statements and decisions of the Belarusian leader.

When is the Kazakhstan president expected to visit Belarus? What are the chances of advancing cooperation with this country?

When did Belarusian women turn out to be stronger than metal? Will the government continue spending millions to support motherhood and childhood? What does the president want ladies to teach their men?

Why is the role of the Belarusian parliament increasing? What did Aleksandr Lukashenko instruct to organize in a very democratic manner, honestly, and without formalism?

Plans concerning the modernization of the system to control economic processes and a key personnel appointment are also covered by the new episode of BelTA’s special project President’s Week.

“LUDICROUS” BILLION. What potential does Aleksandr Lukashenko see in cooperation with Kazakhstan?

The head of state started the work week with a meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to Belarus Yerlan Baizhanov. The ambassador has started working in Belarus only recently but has already earned a reputation as an active ambassador.

This is why Aleksandr Lukashenko started the meeting by thanking the ambassador for the work he had done, especially in the current crucial period for Belarus. “I am referring to the recent elections. You have been closely following the situation in Belarus. I know that you are now visiting various populated localities, places in our Belarus. I would like to hear about your impressions. Maybe you can tell us something that we do not see. Those are always more obvious to a fresh set of eyes. This is why we will be very grateful to you,” the Belarusian leader said.

He emphasized that the Kazakh ambassador is a friend of Belarus. “Rest assured that we will provide you with all possible support in your diplomatic mission. There is no need to even discuss it,” the head of state said.
In turn, the Kazakh ambassador said: “It is a great honor for me to meet with you. I regard this as a special sign of your personal attention to the bilateral agenda and relations with Kazakhstan.”

Speaking about his impressions from travelling all over Belarus since he became the head of the diplomatic mission in August 2023, the ambassador stressed: "I have very serious impressions, first of all, of the technological development, the industrial potential of Belarus and, of course, of the people. Everyone starting with chief engineers and ending with ordinary workers wants to move forward, including in terms of cooperation with Kazakhstan.”

Preparations for an official visit of the Kazakhstan president

Exchanging opinions about the development of bilateral cooperation is always a good thing but the head of state had another important reason for the meeting. Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is expected to visit Minsk soon. This is why it was necessary to discuss some things in anticipation of the visit.

“There is a reason for our meeting today. You know very well that the president of Kazakhstan is likely to come to Belarus on an official visit in the third quarter of the year. Negotiations will be held at the highest level. The interested parties will hold meetings within the framework of the visit. I am sure that the $1 billion that we have achieved in bilateral trade will be considered ludicrous after this visit. Due to the potential of the countries, the friendliest ones that make part of our integration associations. Such states as Belarus and Kazakhstan should have the most advanced relations,” the head of state said.

The advancement of manufacturing cooperation

Belarus and Kazakhstan already actively work together in terms of manufacturing cooperation. Projects are being implemented to jointly manufacture tractors, agricultural machines, automobiles and trailers, fire trucks, emergency and rescue vehicles as well as elevator equipment.

“We plan to keep promoting our technologies and to use them to set up joint ventures in Kazakhstan and Belarus. We are ready to provide support to you at any time. Any wishes of yours in Belarus’ territory are a law for us. We are ready to step up our cooperation in launching joint ventures,” the head of state said.

The influence of sanctions

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the situation in the world is getting complicated. “This has an impact on us, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and our relations. Especially threats of the policy of sanctions from the West. But we cooperate and should find areas of our cooperation that will not create problems for Kazakhstan. You should know that we are ready to cooperate with you in all areas of interest to your state. Therefore, I don’t see any big problems here,” the Belarusian leader said. 
“If we move forward in the areas that are of interest to Belarus and Kazakhstan, we can overcome not only sanctions but also any barriers and obstacles,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is confident.

Support in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The head of state noted that at present Kazakhstan presides over the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. “We know that in February you ratified all the documents concerning Belarus’ membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We are very grateful to you for it,” the Belarus president said.

He noted that in line with preliminary plans the next SCO summit is expected to be held in Astana in July 2024. “It would be very symbolic and gratifying if Belarus becomes a full-fledged member of the SCO in Astana. We will ask you to help us with this. Naturally, a lot depends on the presiding country. And our Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to put more effort into it,” said the Belarusian leader.

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT. Why do Belarusian women enjoy special treatment and what did the president advise them?

The Belarusian head of state often refers to himself as a women’s president as a tribute of respect and recognition of the important role women play in the modern Belarusian society. At the beginning of his presidential career and particularly during hard periods Aleksandr Lukashenko’s policy always relied on natural traits of Belarusian women: the desire for peace, creation, and harmony. The Belarusian leader once admitted he would not have become the president without women.

And Aleksandr Lukashenko puts more trust in women. They are less inclined to betray and get corrupted, the head of state noted.

In his address to Belarusian women on Women’s Day the president stressed: “Woman’s soul is an amazing world of love, in which natural beauty and charm are combined with the creative energy of maternal feelings, care for others and hard work. Sparing no time and effort, you devote yourself to your loved ones and your chosen cause, bringing bright emotions, a ray of hope, comfort and harmony to this world. You make us, men, feel empowered and willing to do everything for the peaceful future of children and our dear Belarus.”
The head of state sincerely thanked women for their devotion to the country and contribution to strengthening unity and stability in society.

The first few days of spring prior to International Women’s Day are a good reason to meet with women activists and talk about serious matters among other things. Aleksandr Lukashenko accepted the relevant invitation from the Belarusian Women’s Union. “It is you, who feel very strongly the responsibility for the fate of their country, who worry about its future. You and only you are ahead of the curve, at the forefront of this patriotic movement. You love your country, your Motherland like no one else does,” the president stressed as he met with activists of the Belarusian Women’s Union on 5 March. “Young people and children certainly represent our future, the future of any country. You want peace, calm and prosperity for our country. The future of the state is the future of our children. That’s why your female perspective on the development of the society is so important.”
More than 500 representatives of the union from all parts of the country took part in the meeting. The meeting proceeded in a very warm and friendly atmosphere. Its participants not only talked about serious matters but also laughed and made jokes. Aleksandr Lukashenko also presented government awards to women.
The president talked to a number of activists of the Belarusian Women’s Union and answered questions. Matters of motherhood and childhood were raised as well as support for large families, the continuation of the family capital program, protection of traditional values, family nurture, patriots and the future of the country, advantages of the rural life style.

The special attitude towards women in the Belarusian society

As the president said, Belarus continues the good tradition of congratulating the strongest, most courageous, beautiful, reliable, beloved women in the first few days of spring.

Strength and courage were mentioned for a reason. Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded those present how Belarusian women had shared hardships of the war equally with men. Women rescued the injured on battlefields. They worked hard on the home front. They aided the partisan movement. They participated in the underground resistance movement. After their husbands, fathers, sons died on battlefields, our grandmothers and mothers found the strength to rebuild the country.

“When the future of the state was at stake once again, while seemingly so tender, fragile and vulnerable, you turned out to be harder than metal. And by doing so you set an example for men. We just had no right to be weaker. We could not fail you. Thanks to that we held out and won together,” the president stressed.

Contemporary Belarusian women also have examples they can follow as role models. For instance, the head of state mentioned the Belarusian Super Woman project, which is dedicated to representatives of the women community, who want to make the world a better place.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that women achieve success in various spheres, make a significant contribution to the country’s economy and play an important role in reinforcing peace and security. Very soon a Belarusian woman will even fly into the outer space. Moreover, there are spheres where men find it hard and sometimes impossible to best women.

“I have always said and I will repeat once again that you are our most effective diplomatic weapon. I am proud of the fact that many women in Belarus hold high positions in government bodies, public organizations, and run enterprises. They prove their competence, professionalism and devotion to the Motherland in every area,” the president stated.
During the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko also mentioned his personal attitude towards women: “I certainly understand that women treat me well because I am your most ardent supporter. And I am far from an ideal man but I am exceptionally devoted to women. And I believe that nature has yet to create something that will be more perfect than women.” The president is convinced that Belarusian women are the world’s most beautiful ones.

A woman’s political party

The head of state reminded that the Belarusian Women’s Union is as old as independent Belarus and a lot of important initiatives have been implemented over the years. In a relatively short period of time the women’s movement has become a force to be reckoned with. The Belarusian Women’s Union is a pillar of the civil society.

“As I was preparing for this meeting yesterday, I wondered why the union has not become a political party yet. No, no, I am not pushing you towards it. You know my attitude to party building, to political parties: everything must be natural, everything must mature. There should be no pro-governmental parties and other ones. Political parties have to take shape on their own if we really want to have genuine political parties in the future,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president noted: “It seems to me that if we had a women's party, it would have no equal. It would be totally unrivaled. I say this sincerely. And I also had a thought that, as a matter of principle, why would we need a party like that if people do not take parties well? You as a union have a tremendous influence. You take part in all political processes and other processes.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that all the talk about gender inequality is irrelevant in Belarus. The woman’s position in the Belarusian society is determined by her professionalism, education, respect and caring attitude on the part of men. And the state creates all appropriate conditions for this.

Motherhood and self-realization

Aleksandr Lukashenko urged women to remember that the true calling of women on Earth is motherhood. “Regardless of the LGBT agenda in the West. Unfortunately, this trend may have been coming to us as well. No one but women can give birth to a genuine heir for us. A mother is the guardian of the family hearth and a keeper of traditional foundations of our society. By raising children as patriots, you strengthen the state, lay a reliable foundation for the future of our Belarus. This is why give birth, raise and take care of our children while we will try to ensure peace and prosperity for you. We have to,” the Belarusian leader stated.

At the same time the head of state reminded about a top-priority task of the state: to enable conditions for women to successfully combine motherhood and family with self-realization in career. A lot has been done already but Aleksandr Lukashenko believes it is necessary to implement additional measures. “We need to take a look at preschool working hours and make them more family-friendly. The same is true about schools. Particularly primary schools. You have to feel confident that pedagogues will take care of your children till the evening if necessary,” the president said.
There is no doubt that the aid of the state is very important. But support from a man is as important for every woman. The Belarusian leader noted: “A man in the family is not only a provider, but, first of all, a helping hand in family responsibilities. Teach your men to take care of it little by little. Teach them every day and every hour to contribute to the rearing of children. Not only boys, but also girls.”

State support and family capital

The meeting also raised the matter of whether the state will continue supporting motherhood and childhood. Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the family capital program costs millions of U.S. dollars.

Nevertheless, the answer of the head of state is straightforward: “Our state will continue to bear this burden under any conditions and circumstances. In full and, if necessary, beyond the existing social security net. Child benefits will be increased. No one is going to scrap parental leaves. We will find the necessary funds to make sure pediatric care keeps up with global trends. We are nearly there. And we will make sure that children’s health centers continue to be exemplary.”

The president remarked that there were about 63,000 large families in Belarus when the family capital program was launched. At present the number of large families exceeds 120,000. The head of state said: “We are addressing a most important matter. There is no matter that is more important than increasing our population. We have problems with that. I often say that our Belarus with our hardworking people and resources is capable of feeding 15 million or even 20 million considering our geopolitical location.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko added that there is no doubt that one child per family is not enough. Having two kids is preferable. Three would be even better. By the way, one of the most topical problems for large families is having to spend a long time on the housing register and this problem has been virtually resolved. “A large family and housing are the key things. If there is a house, then there is a family and the rest,” he said.

The head of state once again assured that he will decide in favor of extending the family capital program in Belarus. The only thing is to make sure that this money reaches the right people. It is necessary to make sure that aid is spent on specific individuals, on needs of kids. The Belarusian Women’s Union should join efforts to resolve issues of this kind.

The matters the Belarusian Women’s Union should take care of

The head of state suggested that the Belarusian Women’s Union take control of a number of things of utmost importance for the society. In particular, women's health and promotion of families with children were mentioned.

“Our country takes unprecedented measures to protect motherhood and childhood, to provide pregnancy care, to provide free IVF procedures and annual medical exams. But all measures of the state will be in vain if the woman herself does not take care of her health,” the president said.
The Belarusian Women's Union should also play an important role in promoting traditional family values and become a barrier to protect our society from the alien perverted values of today, which, according to him, will become more and more. "Only a woman who has experienced the joy of motherhood knows that this is the real meaning of life. It will not be replaced by prestigious jobs or overseas resorts. Children are your and our continuation," the president emphasized.

“One more thing I would like to ask of you and all the women: please remain a tower of strength for us, men. A genuine one. Make us go crazy with love. There is no need for anything else. In turn, we will do everything else. We will do everything to ensure that Belarus not only survives this difficult time, but also comes out of it stronger, more developed and tempered,” the head of state said. “Men live primarily for you. You are our Motherland. You are our patriotism. You are our Fatherland.”

A piece of advice for women

Aleksandr Lukashenko was asked what a woman should be: a frugal housewife, an undemanding homemaker, or a woman who lives here and now.

“Our women keep a balance. They do not need any advice. A genuine Belarusian woman knows how to save money and how to spend it when needed,” the head of state noted.
“It is necessary to live in the moment, looking into the future,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Belarus in 2035 and the presidency

The head of state was asked how he sees Belarus in 2035. “If there is peace and quiet... We need it,” he emphasized. “Listen, if we no longer have it, then there will be no pension benefits, no healthcare. And women will not give birth to kids. Women need stability and confidence in the future. It is the most important condition. And we will overcome difficulties.”

The head of state mentioned the presidential election that is due next year: “Someone asked me whether I will run for the presidency. I didn’t hear the question till the end and said I’d run. It doesn’t mean I have already made up my mind. I only wanted to tell them I will run for the presidency so that they would calm down. Everything will depend on how we approach this election. A person we can trust may appear. All kinds of things may happen. This is why we’ve created the Belarusian People’s Congress [with a constitutional status]. Not for Lukashenko.”
Speaking about his presidency, the head of state stressed that it is first and foremost about hard work. “But it is my life. I have no other life except for you. And nevertheless, you have to understand that I will not live forever, that you will live with a new president. And it is my big task. I want our republic to live a calm and quiet life albeit a bit poor life. But we have to live on our land and grow,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

VERY DEMOCRATIC. Who will become the core of the Council of the Republic?

On 7 March Aleksandr Lukashenko discussed the process of forming the new composition of the upper chamber of the Belarusian parliament with Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Natalya Kochanova.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “As for the House of Representatives [the lower chamber of the Belarusian parliament], work is in progress over there on matters concerning the beginning of work of the new MPs. A lot of work. All the relevant instructions have been given.”

First of all, the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus will have to elect its leadership and chairpersons of the commissions. The necessary organizational support will be provided. It is up to the MPs to do the rest of the work later on. “I want MPs to determine on their own how they have to live and work,” the head of state said.

In turn, the Council of the Republic consists of representatives of specific territories. Every oblast and the city of Minsk have to elect eight members of the Council of the Republic each at sessions of municipal councils of deputies by secret ballot. Another eight members of the upper chamber are appointed by the Belarus president.
The nomination of candidates to the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus will begin on 12 March and has to end on 21 March at the latest. The actual elections to the Council of the Republic are supposed to take place on 4 April 2024.

The Belarusian leader said: “All of it has to be very democratic. And honest. Not for the sake of submitting a report to someone. There is no need to report to anyone except our own people. The process has to be proper and without any red tape. After all, the upper chamber of the parliament is kind of an expert council. It is supposed to peruse one more time the bills passed by the House of Representatives. This is why it is necessary to look closely at the nominated candidates, who will be elected by the relevant councils.”

The Council of the Republic has a total of five permanent commissions. Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the selection of candidates to fill positions of the chairpersons of the commissions: “These five people together with the chairperson and the deputy [chairperson of the Council of the Republic] will represent the core of the upper chamber.”
“I’d like to know how the work has been organized because it is already in progress and what the problems are. From the point of view of whether I need to get involved to address some issues or not. It is necessary to form the parliament because its role is increasing. And these are members of the Belarusian People’s Congress. One can say it will be the core of that body. It is very important for us,” the head of state concluded.

IMPORTANT APPOINTMENT. Why does Aleksandr Lukashenko intend to modernize the presidential administration?

Aleksandr Lukashenko held another meeting in the Palace of Independence on 7 March. He met with Aleksandr Yegorov, who has been the chairman of the board of OAO Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus up till now. Now the young but experienced banker will occupy a key office in the president’s staff: Aleksandr Lukashenko has decided to appoint him deputy head of the Belarus President Administration.
“This has to do with the upgrade of the system of managing economic processes in the country. We have put together quite a good pool and a group of economists. Both in the government (financial economists) and in our National Statistical Committee and so on,” the president said. “And the Belarus President Administration will also be modernized. The administration is the headquarters of the president. The political headquarters. But personnel policy, ideological work, economy, and legal matters are a special area of work.”

The head of state pointed to inadequate analysis and oversight over the implementation of the president’s instructions adopted as a result of meetings with government members and economists.

“Therefore, naturally we need a thorough examination of these processes by a group of specialists,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“The same applies to personnel matters, ideological work, and so on. These matters are my bailiwick, of course. And everything will be seriously modernized here. The Belarus President Administration will have a role in matters related to control, economic management, finances,” said the Belarusian leader.

He explained the reason for appointing Aleksandr Yegorov to this position: “You are a totally young man. You know my policy: generations change, new people come. That’s the way it should be. Nothing should stay frozen. I thought about putting the deputy head of the Belarus President Administration in charge of this pyramid. But we need a young, fresh look at it. I had seriously studied your candidacy and biography."

The head of state also said that he expects an alternative point of view from Aleksandr Yegorov.
“I know your relationship with people in some high offices. You will have to take some of them under control if you work in this position and if we make such a decision. You don’t have to be on the same page with the government, ministers and others. And the National Bank. You should be ready to speak up. This is why you have to be ready for it,” the president said.

In addition, Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned Aleksandr Yegorov's experience in the banking sector. “You are a banker. This is why I won't need to hire a president’s aide on banking matters,” he said.
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