MINSK, 3 February (BelTA) – Agreements, which lay down the foundation for fruitful cooperation with the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe, were secured as Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko visited these countries. Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Aleinik made the statement while talking about the main results of the head of state's visit, BelTA has learned.
Why is cooperation with Africa important?
In his public speeches during his stay in Zimbabwe Aleksandr Lukashenko repeatedly emphasized the significance and the role of the African continent for the entire world. The Belarusian leader said: “Africa woke up a long time ago. Without Africa there can be no perspective in the world at all! Africa has resources. Africa has people. The local people are getting more educated every year. The latest technologies come here. The world cannot develop without Africa! There can be no planetary development without Africa. This is why all the powers that be are here. Including the USA, China, Russia, UK, the entire European Union, and so on and so forth. Future belongs to Africa.
Sergei Aleinik wholeheartedly supports the point of the Belarusian head of state. “It is the absolute truth. Africa is the second largest continent on the planet after Eurasia. The population exceeds 1.5 billion people. A number of countries in this region are developing very dynamically. Moreover, according to population growth projections, the number of people in Africa will grow faster than everywhere else. The share of young people in the population's composition will be close to 60% by 2050. And all these young people need food, education, jobs, housing, and healthcare. It is understandable that governments of African countries will do their best to satisfy these main social and economic needs. While we have enough competences to find contact points in these spheres and establish cooperation,” the minister of foreign affairs stressed.
It is no secret that the African continent occupies leading positions in the world in terms of the raw materials that have no analogs and are of vital importance for the development of innovative technologies of the 21st century, Sergei Aleinik remarked. According to existing projections, in the 2030s Africa may become one of the world's most important sources of raw materials as part of the new production revolution that is starting. Apart from that, it is a dynamically growing market of workforce and technologies. “As we know, powers that be, the main countries know it perfectly well, recognize it, and are trying to occupy their niches on the African continent. The United States of America, China, India, Russia, countries of the European Union are not simply present here. They are actively competing. This is why they extremely seriously watch the expansion of Belarus' cooperation with countries of the African continent,” Sergei Aleinik pointed out.
He admitted: “It is not a simple region. It is also the truth. Not every country can afford working here. We don't have it easy everywhere and in everything in Africa either. But we've been building relations with countries of the African continent persistently and for a long time.”
The Belarusian minister of foreign affairs reminded that Belarus had established diplomatic relations with 51 out of 54 countries of Africa. There are five Belarusian diplomatic missions in Africa: in Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. “These are our so-called pillars, around which we build cooperation with African countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Belarus' approach to cooperation with African partners radically differs from that of the West. Western countries are still intent on milking Africa dry and are resorting to various means in order to prevent Africa from becoming a geopolitical player. Unlike the West Belarus is ready to help Africa become a global player. “This is why we initially established our interaction and relations with countries of the African continent on the modern paradigm of a multipolar world. We are creating honest, equal, mutually beneficial and mutually respectful relations. We bring technologies, train people, recognize the versatility of ways of development, suggest various manufacturing cooperation and investment projects while presenting no additional demands,” Sergei Aleinik stressed.
The official is convinced that the Belarus president's state visit to Zimbabwe had confirmed the perspective and correctness of the strategy Belarus had chosen.
For the sake of peace and understanding. Global significance of Aleksandr Lukashenko's visit to Zimbabwe
For many years Belarus has been persistently building relations with a number of countries in the region, including with Zimbabwe. Belarus is ready to continue the work. The state visit testifies to that. “You have to know that in the center of Europe there is a country called Belarus, which is always ready to give you a hand in any situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed during the visit. The head of state said that Belarus is intent on working together with the leadership of Zimbabwe for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe: “We deeply respect and are grateful to the people of Zimbabwe. I'd like to emphasize that we go to Africa not for the sake of bringing some illusive democratic values. We go in order to work together with your leaders for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Sergei Aleinik also emphasized the creative nature of Belarus-Zimbabwe interaction. In his words, Aleksandr Lukashenko's visit should be viewed as one of the many concrete steps towards the peace that many desperately need today and towards creation, on which Belarus' domestic and foreign policies focus on in 2023.
Sergei Aleinik described Aleksandr Lukashenko's visit to Zimbabwe as a genuinely fundamental milestone in Belarus-Africa relations since it was the first visit of this caliber to an African country below the equator. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates the visit's total economic effect at roughly $200 million.
Since 2020 Belarus has been cooperating vigorously with Zimbabwe as part of a mechanization program and has supplied over 1,800 tractors and about 80 grain harvesters to Zimbabwean farmers. These machines helped ensure the country's food security. “But it is just the beginning. We've launched the third phase of the program to the tune of over $66 million. It provides for shipping over 3,700 tractors, 60 harvesters to the local agrarians within the next 1.5 years,” the Belarus president said.
Fire trucks of Belarusian make are now being shipped to local municipalities in Zimbabwe. Apart from that, BelAZ haul trucks are already successfully used in Zimbabwe. The sides have come to terms on shipping over 30 BelAZ haul trucks soon, which will work in Zimbabwe.
Eight bilateral documents were signed in the presence of the heads of state in Harare. Including agreements on encouragement and mutual protection of investments, on setting up a permanent joint commission on cooperation. A bilateral memorandum of understanding on mutual recognition of education documents was signed. An intergovernmental agreement was signed on avoiding double taxation and prevention of tax evasion with regard to taxes on incomes and property. An agreement on twinning the cities of Minsk and Harare was also signed.
The sides came to terms on realizing investment projects and manufacturing cooperation projects in various spheres. It will be the basis for continuing this cooperation. “In the area of the production sector, trade, agriculture, power engineering, transport, and mining of mineral resources. We have also agreed that these contracts and our arrangements that we have secured today will become the foundation for our continued cooperation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“If Zimbabwe is interested in creating joint ventures in Zimbabwe and Belarus, we are ready for it. We will process raw materials from Zimbabwe at enterprises in Belarus together with your specialists and share the corresponding profit in this manner. We would also welcome the infusion of Zimbabwean capital into the capital of our enterprises. The president and I did not rule out barter schemes either. A special group of specialists will be set up to identify the appropriate goods,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Tentative schedule for opening a Zimbabwean embassy in Belarus
Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Aleinik stressed that cooperation with Zimbabwe continues not only in economic affairs but also between the ministries of foreign affairs. The Zimbabwean minister of foreign affairs and international trade is expected to visit Belarus in late March 2023, Sergei Aleinik said. “We expect that preparatory procedures for opening Zimbabwe's embassy in Belarus will be finished by then. The relevant agreement was also reached during the visit,” he said. “I am convinced it will allow more fully realizing the existing potential for interaction and converting our long-standing friendly and mutually respectful relations into mutually beneficial projects with a high added value.”
How can Mozambique get involved in Belarus-Zimbabwe cooperation?
The experience of positive interaction with Zimbabwe opens additional opportunities for Belarus to expand cooperation with other African countries, too. In particular, Mozambique was mentioned during Aleksandr Lukashenko's visit to Zimbabwe. “Mozambique is a massive country. It is nearby. With thousands of kilometers of the shoreline. An agrarian country. Needs huge investments in agriculture. We already have experience. And the president [of Zimbabwe] said that the president of Mozambique is his friend. And we will soon discuss how we can adapt the Belarus-Zimbabwe experience to Mozambique,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said while speaking about progress of the talks.
Sergei Aleinik had the following to say about the matter: “Certainly, we are interested in it and intend to discuss prospects of our joint work more thoroughly soon, including trilateral work in this area.”
Belarus' priorities in relations with Middle East countries. UAE as an example
There is little information about the Belarus president's trip to the United Arab Emirates in comparison with the coverage of his state visit to Zimbabwe. It can be partially attributed to different traditions of Middle East countries where people are not as open and emotional as people in Africa. However, the great results of the visit to the UAE can be derived at least by looking at the various avenues of cooperation touched upon during negotiations of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
While in the United Arab Emirates Aleksandr Lukashenko met with the country's president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The leaders came to terms on cooperation in more than a dozen areas, including cooperation in trade, economy, and investment. Humanitarian affairs were also in focus. According to the agreements, a large delegation of specialists is expected to arrive in Belarus in the near future to work on specific matters in the identified areas of cooperation on the spot.