6th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made a speech during the plenary session of the 6th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia in St Petersburg on 18 July. In
his speech the head of state drew attention to Belarus-Russia
interaction in various areas. He emphasized humanitarian cooperation and
regional ties, remarked upon the history Belarusians and Russians
share, and underlined the importance of pursuing an effective youth
policy in addition to making a few remarks about integration.
of Russia Vladimir Putin made a speech before the Belarusian head of
state had the chance to do the same. Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “If my
speech repeats ideas of the President of Russia, it will be no
plagiarism. We just happen to think the same things at times. I am
sincerely glad to be given the opportunity to meet with you in the
cultural capital of Russia – the glorious city of Leningrad [St
Petersburg] that I love.”
“Just what I was saying, Aleksandr Grigoryevich [Lukashenko],” Vladimir Putin noted.
The audience responded to the dialogue with applause.
Lukashenko noted he had not mentioned his love for St Petersburg in
order to flatter the President of Russia, who had been born in this
city. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that residents of Belarus and
Leningrad suffered during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 more than
others did. “We’ve carried all the hardships of that war on our
shoulders. And I am simply stunned by the reborn city of St Petersburg. I
told Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] about it yesterday. You’ve done
well reviving this city and continuing its powerful evolution. This is
why I treat this sacred city with such respect, kindness, and love,”
Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
Cultural integration and the contribution of Belarusian diaspora
Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that St Petersburg – the cultural
capital of Russia – had been chosen to host the 6th Forum of
Regions of Belarus and Russia. “Since its foundation upon orders of
Peter the Great and up till now the city has been a center of events
inseparably linked to the history of Russia and our fatherland. To the
history sons and daughters of Belarus have played a noticeable role in.
Everyone, who studied and worked here in various years,” the Belarusian
head of state stated.
Petersburg has always attracted creative people from various cities and
countries such as architects, musicians, scientists, art critics,
writers, and poets,” Aleksandr Lukashenko went on saying. “By the way,
St Petersburg residents, particularly architects and scientists, have
made the largest contribution to the restoration of the war-torn Minsk.
It was Leningrad residents who had played a major role in reviving
today’s science in Belarus. We honor it and remember it.”
modern terms the city performed and performs the function of cultural
integration of our countries and nations. This is why it is no surprise
that this city with its rich history and centuries-old traditions
naturally determined the agenda of today’s meeting. It is dedicated to
the common cultural and humanitarian space of our nations in the context
of interregional contacts,” the Belarusian leader said.
his words, modern Belarusian-Russian ties in these areas are
characterized by a broad scope, special diversity, and a large number of
large-scale events. About 70 constituent territories of the Russian
Federation have signed agreements on bilateral cooperation in the sphere
of culture with all the oblasts of Belarus. International art festivals
are arranged as well as major art exhibitions, international theater
and movie forums, days of culture of the regions of Belarus and Russia.
who live in Russia, make a considerable contribution to the advancement
of cultural and humanitarian ties. Over 20 Belarusian national
autonomies operate here. About 80 public organizations of Belarusians,
culture and enlightenment societies, associations of fellow countrymen
maintain tight ties with the historical homeland and represent national
cultural and spiritual traditions, the native language in Russia,”
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out.
of public organizations of Belarusians in Russia with specific towns,
cities, and districts of Belarus is strong, too.
Interaction in education and science
Lukashenko mentioned growing Belarus-Russia cooperation in education.
The existing legal base (over 1,300 agreements of various levels)
enables equal education opportunities for Belarusians and Russians,
including in the top higher education institutions of both countries.
Over 11,000 Belarusian citizens go to Russian institutes, academies, and
universities and over 1,500 citizens of Russia study in Belarus,
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
Belarusian-Russian University in Mogilev plays an important role in
shaping the common education space in the Union State of Belarus and
Russia. A branch of the Moscow State University of Economics,
Statistics, and Informatics works well in Minsk. Thanks to efforts of
the Union State of Belarus and Russia a branch of the Russian State
Social University has been opened in Minsk,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
Lukashenko went on saying that Belarusian-Russian R&D cooperation
traditionally remains strong in various sectors such as space
exploration, information technologies, agriculture, production of
materials and instruments.
Belarusian nuclear power plant has been mentioned here as well as outer
space exploration. It is our pragmatic goal – to catch up with the
elder brother in things the brother does well and teach the same
competences to Belarusians themselves. The nuclear power plant is a case
in point. It is being built under the supervision of Russian
specialists but Belarusians represent an overwhelming majority of the
workforce,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “The most promising areas of
further cooperation include such highly intellectual areas as
nanomaterials, radio electronics, and the most popular branches of
medical science where Belarusians have been strong since the Soviet
Historical connections and common memory
to the Belarusian head of state, ties between regions of Belarus and
Russia took decades to evolve and were largely shaped by the common
history and shared fates of the people. The Belarusian leader stressed:
“Belarusians and Russians have gone through many trials and have endured
them together with honor!”
have nothing to be ashamed of in our history. We should hold it sacred.
Because it is our greatest legacy. When the West criticizes us – more
in the past, slightly less these days and not because they have more
conscience now – I tell them: you have yet to settle accounts with us
for the last war that you brought to us, for the war we didn’t recover
from for seven decades. This is why you should be careful when you speak
about human rights, democracy, and deliver other unjustified criticisms
at times,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.
in the heroic land of Leningrad I would like to say once again: memory
of that war is sacred for Belarusians,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
“This year we’ve come up to another historic milestone – the 75th
anniversary of lifting the blockade of Leningrad and Belarus’
liberation. Next year we will stand united as we celebrate the date
every Soviet person holds sacred and dear – the 75th
anniversary of the Great Victory.”
Lukashenko believes these historical milestones are important for
uniting Belarusians and Russians, for bolstering the ideological
foundation of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. “There are not many
participants and witnesses of those tragic and glorious events left but
we are happy they are with us. It is they, who carry on the true
history that some are trying to rewrite these days. First-hand accounts
of those events are the best way to protect and pass on the memory about
our common heroic past to the next generations. Modern young people
need to know who we have to thank for our lives, freedom, and
independence,” Aleksandr Lukashenko was convinced.
Lukashenko drew attention that these fundamental values that
Belarusians and Russians share should be used to shape the world view of
the young generation.
Contribution of young people to the development of the Union State of Belarus and Russia
viability of our integration project will depend on the degree of
involvement of young people in the construction of the Union State of
Belarus and Russia. The sacred deed [Chairwoman of the Federation
Council of the Russian Federation] Valentina Ivanovna [Matviyenko] and
[Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of
Belarus] Mikhail Vladimirovich [Myasnikovich] do here, in St Petersburg
land today deserves the deepest respect, support, and encouragement. It
is necessary to support initiatives of youth associations to organize
festivals, contests, exhibitions, and other events not only in capital
cities but in the regions, too,” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes.
a good example he mentioned the annual academic excellence competition
for Belarusian and Russian school students “Belarus and Russia:
Historical and spiritual affinity”, which gathers dozens of teams from
constituent territories of the Russian Federation. “This year over 250
participants of Belarusian and Russian student summer work teams are
helping build the Belarusian nuclear power plant near Ostrovets. Such
examples of interaction of youth organizations should be used to shape
positive information space. Timely and quality reports of our mass media
should fully eclipse unprofessional and questionable sources,” the
Belarusian leader continued.
Joint sport events
Lukashenko pointed out that both Belarus and Russia pay close attention
to sport, to encouraging young people to go in for sports. The Union
State Spartakiad for kids and teenagers has been held since 2003. It is a
versatile event that features Olympic and non-Olympic sports.
host international sport competitions of the highest caliber. The
number includes the world football championship Russia hosted in 2018
and the 2nd European Games Minsk 2019, which took place in Belarus
virtually one month ago,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “The Russian team
brought glory to its country during the world football championship in
Russia. The Russian team became a winner during the 2nd European Games
Minsk 2019, too. By doing so, Russia demonstrated that not only does
Russia have reserves, the country competes cleanly in sports and can
freely win. Don’t forget you’ve proven that in Minsk. By the way,
everyone was checked for performance-enhancing drugs most rigorously.
Not a single case has been registered in the Russian team or the
Belarusian one. These are objective facts.”
we should think about hosting such events by submitting one bid of
Belarus and Russia, with finance made available from the Union State
budget. It will allow stimulating the development of the tourism
industry in our countries.”
The essence of integration
his speech the Belarusian head of state recalled that the two countries
will mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Union State
Foundation Treaty in December 2019. “A lot has been done to achieve
equal rights of citizens of our countries in this period of time.
Government groups are now actively working on closer integration and
priorities of common development. Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] and I
have reached agreements in principle on that,” the Belarusian head of
his words, there are a number of specific essential issues affecting
the interests of commercial entities and citizens of Belarus and Russia.
“They need to be resolved in the near future. We’ve been working hard
on these issues. We’ve come up with agreements in principle, which we
will reveal later,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.
Lukashenko remarked that thousands of Belarusian and Russian
enterprises are connected by manufacturing cooperation ties these days.
“It is a deliberate policy in Belarus,” the Belarusian leader noted. “In
Belarus there are about 2,500 companies with Russian capital while
every second foreign company with Belarusian capital is located in
is necessary to preserve and multiply the positive results of economic
efforts. The applied nature of our agreements at the top level is also
manifested in the advancement of cooperation between regions. I should
thank heads of the regions. I often mention it: there would be even no
talk about the union of Belarus and Russia now without you. You were the
ones to save this project. Today as we enter a new stage of our
development we should do everything to not only keep this project but
multiply its fruits. Vladimir Putin and I talked about it today,”
Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Lukashenko stressed that this scrupulous and targeted work enriches
bilateral cooperation and brings confidence in tomorrow to the people of
Belarus and Russia. “It is what integration is all about: taking care
for vital interests of your citizens, pooling efforts to secure social
and economic progress in both countries,” the Belarusian leader
Lukashenko, Vladimir Putin and Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of the
political council of the political party Opposition Platform – For Life,
had a brief conversation after the forum.