MINSK, 21 November (BelTA) - The talks between the presidents of Belarus and Russia are mainly focused on import substitution projects, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with head of the Udmurt Republic Aleksandr Brechalov in Minsk on 21 November, BelTA has learned.
According to him, the two countries are capable of doing a lot if they unite efforts. “We can do a lot. Maybe we are doing it not so fast (although time requires us to increase the speed). I will refer to the talks with the Russian president. The main thing we discuss is that we can do everything, but we need a little time for it. Even today the main thing is not money. Today Russia has a lot of currency. Imports have decreased. Yet, we do not have much time and need to act,” said the head of state.
The two countries have outlined joint import substitution projects. More than a dozen of them will be implemented in Belarus.
Russia finances, provides loans for projects. Thus, the parties expect to move forward at a fairly rapid pace in a number of areas, including the automotive industry and production of equipment and machinery.
“These import companies have fled Russia, so today we have to use the whole complex that Belarus has - the automotive, machine tool industry - to solve the acute problems that Belarus and Russia are facing. We will resolve them. This year has shown that we are quite capable of resolving the problems that we have to urgently address,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
In this respect the president emphasized the importance of the visit of the Udmurtia head for the further development of the Belarusian-Russian relations.
“You are, after all, the heart of Russia. The people who live there can help solve the problems we are facing,” he said.
“We need to look at our people, at our economy. The economy is the foundation of everything. If we have economy, we are not afraid of any war. Be sure that we are reliable people and have never betrayed our brothers, we have never gone this way and are not going to. If we are together, we will solve our problems faster,” said the Belarusian leader.
The head of state noted that before the meeting he had thoroughly studied the history of relations between Belarus and Udmurtia and regretfully stated that there was nothing to be happy about. Although there has been slight progress over the recent years. “The potential is good both in Udmurtia and in Belarus. There is a lot to work on. Trade and economic relations are the basis. Therefore, we will build our plans on them,” the president said. All other areas will catch up, the president is convinced. “Our relations are great. God grant that other states have such relations as we have with Russia, and in particular with a certain Russian region,” the Belarusian leader added.
According to him, Belarus is very interested in cooperation with the enterprises of Udmurtia. “I hope we will find the areas we need to develop during your visit. Although, I am sure that such plans have already been worked out. You know our capabilities in hi-tech, car manufacturing, even the defense industry, which is very important today,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president named the supply of eco-friendly types of public transport as one of the areas of potential interest for the Russian region: “We can seriously work in this direction.” Elevators made in Belarus are always in demand. “We are ready to work in this area. I have to tell you that this year, when our so-called partners left us, we reoriented our capabilities to the market of the Russian Federation, including the elevators. Although this enterprise is overloaded, Russia is a priority for us in this respect. President Putin asked me to pay attention to the issue of replacing imported elevators in Russia with Belarusian ones. I promised to do it, and we are fulfilling this promise,” said the president.
As for the agro-industrial sector, Udmurtia also has a well-developed agro-industrial sector, said the head of state. “We do not need to invent anything in the agro-industrial complex. If you like something, you are welcome. If not, we will learn from you,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
He spoke in favor of further development of humanitarian cooperation, including in science, culture and healthcare: “We are on equal terms here. Now we understand what we have to do, what direction to move in. Most importantly, we must remember what has been accumulated before us, to stand on the shoulders of those giants who once created our common country. We have borrowed a lot from there [the Soviet Union].” Back in the Soviet times the Belarusian economy was oriented towards production, this potential has been preserved to the present day, and the country exports a considerable part of its goods. The enterprises of that time make basis for production facilities that have been modernized and new, state-of-the-art ones have been built. For example, biotechnology, nuclear energy, IT, space technology have been developed. “They raise the nation to a completely different level of development,” the president stated.
The trade between Belarus and Udmurtia amounted to $102.4 million in 2021 and exceeded $185 million in 2020. In January-September 2022 the volume of mutual trade reached almost $70 million, or 94% year-on-year. Belarusian exports made up nearly $30 million. Main exports included trucks, the supplies of which increased by almost $5 million in January-September 2022. Belarus bought steel rods, liquid pumps and cars from Udmurtia.