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15 May 2023, 11:53

Victory truth, invitation to summit in New York, old new holiday. Highlights of 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.

What makes Belarusians stronger? How did Aleksandr Lukashenko celebrate Victory Day and why did he go to Moscow? What did the president write in a letter addressed to the UN secretary general in response to an invitation to attend a summit in New York? Why have Western sanctions become a serious challenge for the entire world? An old new holiday and the true meaning of state symbols are also in the regular episode of BelTA's special project President's Week.

A SYMBOL OF UNBENDING WILL. Why is it important to remember the Great Victory?

Events of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 grow more distant every year. Unfortunately, veterans, witnesses of those events die one by one. It is another reason why it is so important to preserve memory about the past suffering, about the feats and heroism that people demonstrated during the war. Victory Day is a sacred holiday for Belarus, a country, which lost at least a third of its population during the war and survived terrible genocide. But like a phoenix it was reborn from the ashes and became a successful independent state.

“Peace on Earth is unthinkable without historic memory while creation means continuity of the historical way, a step into the future. The idea we've been following for more than a quarter of the century is not destruction and indiscriminate besmirching of the past but patient evolutionary development. This is why everything we've started doing for understanding our past, its influence on Belarus' present and future should continue,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed in his address to the nation and the parliament in March 2023.

A source of power

The truth of the Victory and the energy of creation help Belarusians be stronger, ensure reliable protection and prosperity of the native land. The head of state expressed his confidence in it as he extended greetings to compatriots on the occasion of Victory Day on 9 May.

“By building up its potential and authority with their labor victories and accomplishments, contemporaries do everything so that no one would ever be able to break and destroy us,” the president noted. The congratulatory message reads: “This holiday has become a symbol of unbending will of the Belarusian nation in the face of inhumane trials, an embodiment of nationwide resistance against the Nazism in all its forms. Throughout time the memory of the feat of the generation of victors has been a great uniting force, has served as a life beacon for us, who didn't experience horrors of the war and tribulations of the post-war recovery.”

“We remember everyone, who died during that war, who fought the enemy at the front, who fought the enemy as part of partisan units and underground resistance cells, who secured the reliable rear and worked selflessly. We are grateful to those, who carefully preserve and pass on memory of the immortal feat today,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

The president wished strong health, high spirit, long years and prosperity to veterans as well as happiness, peace, and good to every Belarusian family.

Victory Day parade in Red Square

On the eve of 9 May Aleksandr Lukashenko went to Moscow on a working visit. He had a brief conversation with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Russia Dmitry Krutoi and State Secretary of the Union State of Belarus and Russia Dmitry Mezentsev.

But the main events certainly took place on 9 May – in Red Square in Moscow where the historical Victory Parade took place in 1945. About 200 Nazi banners and standards were thrown down at the foundation of the Mausoleum back then. Back then it seemed that fascism had been irreversibly defeated but modern history demonstrates how modern neo-Nazis, heirs of Nazi collaborators and traitors walk tall again, how they try to erase names and feats of true heroes from memory with all kinds of historical fakes. It is important for the nations, who are descendants of the winners, to preserve unity in these conditions.

Apart from the Belarus president the presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the prime minister of Armenia were also present during the parade in Moscow. President of Russia Vladimir Putin had personally greeted every one of them before the parade began.

Photo courtesy of the Kremlin press service
Photo courtesy of the Kremlin press service

Aleksandr Lukashenko watched the parade from the stalls together with other CIS leaders and veterans. A minute of silence was declared in memory of those who fell during the Great Patriotic War. After the parade ended, the leaders of the countries laid a wreath and flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden near walls of the Kremlin.

A sacred place

Upon returning from Moscow Aleksandr Lukashenko took place in festivities in the Belarusian capital in the evening on 9 May.

In Minsk the head of state laid a wreath at the Victory Monument. Aleksandr Lukashenko was accompanied by his three sons. Personally taking part in the wreath-laying ceremony is an annual tradition for the president.

Wreaths and flowers were also laid at the monument by top officials of central government agencies, the parliament, the judge corps, defense, security, and law enforcement agencies, representatives of public associations, the diplomatic corps, veterans, and the clergy.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and all those present in Pobedy Square held a minute of silence to honor the memory of the fallen heroes.

During the ceremony upon the president's instruction Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin presented the stance of the people in uniform on the significance of the Great Victory and described the military and political situation around Belarus.

The defense minister said: “Every year we come to this sacred place, to the majestic monument crowned with an Order of the Victory. This symbol of historical memory towers above the hero city of Minsk and reminds us of the heroic deed that is unmatched in the history of mankind. The heroic deed unites millions of people of Europe and Asia today – all those, who have retained the gene of courage and bravery of the ancestors. We, Belarusians are proud of every warrior of ours – from common soldiers to generals, who stood together with brotherly nations to endure the assault of Nazi Germany and destroyed the army that had been mobilized by the entire Western Europe and had been armed to the teeth thanks to money of world moguls.”

The official stressed that a global military confrontation had been unleashed between the Western civilization and the Eastern Slavonic one. Battles are taking place on all the fronts. A massive war by proxy is in progress, with the West using Ukrainians to secure its own interests and ensure the ability to continue enforcing its order upon the world.

“Our army is ready to repulse anyone, who tries to violate the sacred borders of the Belarusian state. We will do everything so that no one would dare tell Belarusians how they should live in their own land,” Viktor Khrenin assured.

The ceremony ended with Belarus' state anthem and a solemn march of the composite guard of honor company and the orchestra of the Minsk garrison.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. How did Lukashenko respond to the UN secretary general's invitation to attend a summit in New York?

Last week it was revealed that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had invited the Belarus president to participate in a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit, which will take place in September 2023. The press service of the Belarusian head of state confirmed the invitation had been received. The press service also shared details of the messages Aleksandr Lukashenko and Antonio Guterres had sent to each other.

“Halfway through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is time to face facts. Without a dramatic increase in commitment, solidarity and transformative action, we will miss the central goals of the 2030 Agenda to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and protect the environment,” reads the letter sent by the UN secretary general. “I count on your support in securing the breakthroughs our world desperately needs.”

Antonio Guterres noted that multiple crises of the past three years have dealt a serious blow to efforts to achieve the SDGs. Nevertheless, the changes envisioned remain possible and necessary.

“The SDG summit will be the centerpiece of a number of events, including the Climate Summit, a high-level dialogue on financing for development, a series of meetings on healthcare, and a ministerial meeting in preparation for the Summit of the Future 2024. The SDG summit could be the moment when our world transitions from fear to hope and from deepening pessimism to accelerated action. I look forward to your personal participation in the summit and your contribution to making it a turning point for the SDGs,” the UN secretary general noted.

Antonio Guterres. Photo courtesy of Xinhua
Antonio Guterres. Photo courtesy of Xinhua

Aleksandr Lukashenko sent a response letter to Antonio Guterres. The letter reads that Minsk fully welcomes this initiative: “We believe that the upcoming event is a good opportunity to summarize intermediate results of our common efforts. The Republic of Belarus is fully committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, they are effectively integrated into our national strategic documents.”

“I am convinced that Belarus' experience in effective organization of work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level will be interesting and useful for many other UN member states. We are undoubtedly ready to share it during the summit,” the Belarusian leader assured.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also emphasized the importance of making the summit a source of ideas and initiatives that contribute to the elimination of problems on the way to achieving the SDGs: “You quite rightly noted that ‘multiple crises of the past three years have dealt a serious blow to efforts to fulfill the 2030 Agenda. It is now clear that there can be no sustainable development in the world without peace. I said it back in 2015 when I was speaking at the UN summit that adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. You have also repeatedly voiced a similar idea.”

“Belarus' history is full of sad recollections of the war. And this is why we treasure peace not only in our own land, but also on the regional and global scale. For the past few years we have been actively calling on all states to engage in a comprehensive dialogue on security in order to form the basis for building a new, fair world order. Does it take a global catastrophe that will claim lives of millions of people for us to be heard? Amidst growing geopolitical confrontation on the planet, dialogue in the true spirit of San Francisco is needed today more than ever since the end of the Cold War.”

The president stressed that the forthcoming summit should clearly identify a mutual connection between peace and sustainable development, thus giving an impulse towards starting a global dialogue on security.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also drew attention to the matter of enforcement of illegal and unjustified sanctions by a number of countries. It ultimately affects the achievements of the SDGs on the global scale: “A serious challenge to the common cause of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is unilateral coercive measures or sanctions. These voluntaristic actions that contradict international law and are enforced by a group of Western states, which is limited by its own self-interest and prejudices, directly destroy progress towards achieving the SDGs. For example, how can poverty and hunger be eliminated if sanctions undermine global food security and therefore increase the scale of poverty and hunger to entire regions and even continents? Sanctions have become weapons. They are capable of killing!”

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked Antonio Guterres for the invitation to attend the summit and assured Belarus would actively contribute to its organization and would take part in this important event at a decent level.

SPORT COMMUNITY. What preferences will 2nd CIS Games participants and volunteers get?

On 13 May Aleksandr Lukashenko signed decree No.134 on preparing and hosting the 2nd CIS Games in 2023.

The competitions will take place in 11 cities of Belarus in 20 kinds of sport on 5-13 August. The decree introduced a number of preferences and privileges for participants of the 2nd CIS Games and volunteers. Those include visa-free entry to Belarus, no need for registration inside the country, free travels by public transport, exemption from income tax as large as the cost of freely available meals, accommodation, material support, technical support, transport support, and other kinds of support.

In order to stimulate the involvement of extrabudgetary sources of funding, sponsors of the 2nd CIS Games are allowed to include sums of rendered aid into non-operational expenses.

The measures the decree stipulates will enable quality preparations for and actual competitions in addition to optimizing the spending of budget funds and external funds.

OLD NEW HOLIDAY. What do Belarus' state symbols contain?

In addition to Victory Day last week Belarusians also celebrated another significant holiday – Day of the National Emblem, the National Flag and the National Anthem of the Republic of Belarus. It has been celebrated on the second Sunday in May for a number of years. But it is the first time the holiday has been celebrated in such a format.

Aleksandr Lukashenko raised the issue in his address to the nation and the parliament on 31 March: “Our patriots have drawn my attention to another important topic. Belarus' state symbols represent kind of a keeper of historical memory. And the fact that we have three state symbols – the emblem, the flag, and the anthem – while the state holiday celebrates only two of these symbols is probably wrong. It is necessary to fix these shortcomings.”

As good as done. Aleksandr Lukashenko signed decree No.105 on 12 April to change the name of the state holiday “Day of the National Emblem of the Republic of Belarus and the National Flag of the Republic of Belarus” to “Day of the National Flag, the National Emblem, and the National Anthem of the Republic of Belarus”.

The new name will allow paying tribute to all the three state symbols of Belarus.

“These symbols embody the memory of generations, reflect the national identity and the difficult historical path of the people, linking together the past, present and future of the Belarusian state. Our truly people's national flag, emblem and anthem are understandable and truthful. They preserve worldly wisdom, strengthen spiritual forces and inspire for new achievements,” the Belarusian leader said in his greetings to compatriots.

He noted that the desire for peace, dedication to the native land and willingness to create for the sake of future generations have always helped Belarusians to be true to themselves and their principles. Aleksandr Lukashenko is sure that these qualities will not only stand in the face of today's challenges, but also increase the achievements of the sovereign period.

The president wished his compatriots family happiness, joy, health and success in their work for the benefit of the Motherland.

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