MINSK, 3 November (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko continued the practice of meetings with heads of Russian regions welcoming a delegation from Rostov Oblast, led by Governor Vasily Golubev, at the Palace of Independence in Minsk on 3 November, BelTA has learned.
The head of state said that the governor's previous visit to Belarus was in 2017, when a roadmap for cooperation was outlined. The president noted that he would like to hear Vasily Golubev's assessment of the progress made in the implementation of the agreements.
According to the president, the situation has changed greatly over the past five years, so it makes sense to take into account the current realities and take a fresh look at the prospects of bilateral cooperation. “The changes that have taken place over the past five years have affected only external factors, but not the relations between our fraternal nations. I would like to assure you once again: you are always welcome in Belarus and we are ready to help you in every way we can. Import substitution and industrial cooperation are the main tools. Today it is more important than ever,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko. He emphasized that these topics are constantly reviewed at meetings between the leaders of Belarus and Russia.
“I want to emphasize that it is not easy for you there because of the conflict in Ukraine. You are on the front line, we feel it, we know it very well. I wish you courage and tenacity to overcome the problems that were additionally put on your shoulders,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
Talking about trade and economic cooperation the president pointed out that in January-August 2022 the trade between Belarus and Rostov Oblast amounted to $420 million, which is 30% above the index for the same period of 2021. “Last year we exceeded the bar of half a billion US dollars, which we outlined in 2017. Of course, this is not bad, but there is still much work to do and something to strive for,” the head of state said.
Today, strange as it may seem, it is not the complementarity that has always been discussed and is still relevant, but the similarity of approaches to the development of the national economy in Belarus and on the Don that has become a great help in our work.
“When Rostselmash felt the burden of Western sanctions after February 2022, our Gomel agricultural equipment manufacturers lent a helping hand by supporting your production with the necessary parts and components,” said the head of state. “When I was informed about it (we were competitors after all), I definitely called for Gomselmash to support Rostselmash in everything it could. What do we have to divide? We have a huge market. There is a big demand for agricultural machinery including combine harvesters. So there is enough work for everyone,” he added.
The president is convinced that the parties have more serious prospects for the development of cooperation: “The market is growing, there is enough work for everyone and we have to work together.”
In his opinion, the focus on agriculture, not excluding important industries, was the right one. “As a result, we have managed to preserve and develop a number of unique competencies, which today will help ensure jobs and food security of the two countries,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Presenting the capabilities of Belarus, the head of state took note of the reserves for deepening cooperation in the agro-industrial complex: “Belarus is ready to share any accumulated experience. We have enough of it. If we had such opportunities in agriculture as Rostov Oblast, we would have been very happy. But God has not given us such opportunities. Nevertheless, adapting to the situation we have, with the climate changing, I do not exclude that soon we will come to the agricultural cultivation scheme you have in Rostov Oblast. We need your experience today, it is very useful. In short, we are ready to share with you everything we know in the agricultural sector, from personnel training to agricultural equipment.” The matter can also pertain to technology transfer in crop and livestock production.
The president also expressed readiness to provide Rostov Oblast with electric passenger transport and the most modern automobile, agricultural, road-building and municipal vehicles made by MAZ, MTZ, Amkodor and other Belarusian companies.
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that when buying Belarusian equipment Russian partners can be sure of prompt service and delivery of spare parts. “We will never let you down like our Western partners did,” the Belarusian leader said.
He also stated his readiness to implement joint investment and innovation projects, including with the participation of regional business. It concerns first of all expansion of interaction in housing and social construction.
“Joint road construction projects can give new opportunities for growth,” the president continued. “There is big interest in the implementation of your regional programs, such as Clean Water. Of course, we should not forget the humanitarian part - joint projects of educational institutions, cultural exchanges, work in the information sector.”
“I have listed many areas. If we increase cooperation in the listed areas, and in fact there are much more of them, we will reach a whole new level of cooperation. I think everything is in our hands. As we agree, so it will be. We are ready for an open and meaningful dialogue,” the president said.