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UK ambassador's contribution to developing relations with Belarus praised

President 07.08.2019 | 11:52
Fionna Gibb and Aleksandr Lukashenko
Fionna Gibb and Aleksandr Lukashenko

MINSK, 7 August (BelTA) – The UK ambassador has made a big contribution to the development of relations with Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with outgoing Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Fionna Gibb on 7 August, BelTA has learned.

According to the head of state, he does not meet with all outgoing ambassadors. “You have done more than anybody else during your stay and service in Belarus. More than all UK ambassadors. Therefore, I am very grateful to you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “This is your achievement. I think so, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shares this opinion. Thanks to your energy, determination, openness, honesty and justice you have been always calling for (and it is equally important for us), you have achieved all that.”

The president remarked that $3.5 billion worth of bilateral trade is a foundation of any relations. “The UK is Belarus' third largest trade partner after Russia and Ukraine,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“There are some issues, and you know it. Our export and trade largely depend on the supply of oil products. Our trade turnover has shrunk a bit after the situation arising from the pollution of oil in the Druzhba pipeline. Therefore, we need diversification,” the head of state added.

At the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the importance of further efforts to bolster and intensify Belarus-UK cooperation.

The president thanked the UK side for cooperation in the humanitarian field, helping children from Chernobyl-affected regions. You have helped and still help our children after Chernobyl. With recuperation and rehabilitation. They visit your country. We appreciate your help and support,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

He also spoke about the participation of UK athletes in the 2nd European Games. “You team performed very well here,” he said. Aleksandr Lukashenko asked Fionna Gibb to convey the best wishes to President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Sebastian Coe. “He will be pleased that we remember him in Belarus. And we hope that he will attend the Match Europe v USA Minsk 2019 on 9-10 September. Thanks to him our people will see this sports event,” the head of state said.

“This is the spectrum of our relations. We just need to develop these relations. We can find new areas for cooperation. And we should not lose time. I think that the new prime minister, the new government [in the United Kingdom] will step up these relations. Perhaps, one day in the future you will come to Belarus (you can come any time without any visas, you are close person for us), and we will discuss our new restored relations. The period of your service as ambassador in Belarus will be the foundation of these relations. Thank you for everything, I wish you every success,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded.

Fionna Gibb, in turn, thanked the Belarusian head of state for kind words, especially about her contribution to the development of Belarus-UK relations. “I truly believe that the relations between the two countries have improved within three and a half years,” she said.

Belarus-UK relations have been increasingly vibrant in recent years. Prince Michael of Kent, a member of the British Royal Family, visited Belarus in 2016. Minister of State for Europe and the Americas of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alan Duncan visited Belarus in 2017. They had meetings with the Belarusian head of state.

Belarus' minister of foreign affairs visited the UK in 2018. Customs bodies of the two countries signed memoranda on trade and economic cooperation. The parliamentary delegation of the UK visited Belarus last year. There were meetings with high-raking officials of the Belarusian National Assembly. Groups of parliamentary cooperation have been established in the parliaments of the two countries.

The visit of the Belarusian prime minister to London was organized on 10-11 June 2019. The Day of Belarusian Capital Markets took place at London Stock Exchange. UK Trade Policy Minister George Hollingbery visited Belarus on 20-22 June to attend the opening ceremony of the 2nd European Games. The UK official met with the head of state.

Significant progress has been made in the development of the legal framework since 2016. Apart from the abovementioned documents, the sides have signed a double taxation agreement and an agreement on international road transportation. Cooperation in culture and education has been vigorously developing.

The UK has been Belarus' third largest trade partner in recent years. In 2018, the trade turnover made up $3.4 billion, including $3.1 worth of export. Foreign direct investments from the UK reached $2.7 billion in 2018. The UK is the second largest source of foreign direct investments to the Belarusian economy after Russia. There are 211 organizations with UK's capital in Belarus.

The countries are now mulling over promising bilateral projects in alternative energy, road construction, EV production, agriculture and food production, science and technology, banking and finance.

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