Belarus and Ukraine are going to promote friendship and mutual cooperation, develop interaction in various fields, including in Chernobyl issues. This is the result of the meeting of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko which took place on the territory of the two states on 26 April, the anniversary of the Chernobyl accident.
In the morning the presidents visited the Chernobyl nuclear power plant where they paid tribute to the memory of Chernobyl clean-up workers and laid flowers at the Wall of Memory in the Memorial to the Heroes of Chernobyl.
The heads of state inspect the construction site of the future protective shelter and the storage of nuclear wastes. They were informed about the unique technology which was used to erect the new shelter and about the future plans to ensure the facility’s safety.
The Belarusian leader noted that every year he visits Belarusian villages in the radiation pollution zone at this time of the year. “And I see that people’s attitudes are changing. They are now hopeful. They hope for revival and safe future of their native lands. People’s faith in our working for their sake is the key result of our efforts,” the President stressed.
Alexander Lukashenko believes that Belarus and Ukraine need to step up cooperation on Chernobyl-related issues. “Our states are trying to overcome this disaster together. We have implemented a number of joint measures in monitoring and radiation control, agriculture and the forestry industry, coordination of scientific and information work. We successfully cooperate within the framework of Chernobyl projects of international organizations,” the President of Belarus said. “However, the potential of cooperation between Belarus and Ukraine is not used in full. I am convinced that our scientists, doctors, ecologists, all people working for the mitigation of the Chernobyl consequences in Belarus and Ukraine, protection of people’s health in Chernobyl-affected territories can do much more.”
“In 2016, by joint efforts we managed to continue international Chernobyl cooperation under the aegis of the United Nations. The interest of the global community in our bitter and, at the same time, unique experience of mitigating medical, ecological, social, economic consequences of the catastrophe is very high,” the Belarusian leader emphasized. “We should also use the experience we have to restore affected territories. This can be done with the assistance of the United Nations and partners.”
Alexander Lukashenko added that the states allocate huge funds for the mitigation of the consequences of the biggest man-made disaster. This figure now exceeds $25 billion for the Belarusian budget only. “Thinking about the security of future generations, we allocate funds for protection measures at the local level, invest in human resources, science, modern technologies, and manufacturing,” the President said.
After the visit to the nuclear power plant Alexander Lukashenko and Petro Poroshenko went to Belarus for bilateral talks.
The heads of state went to St Michael Church in Lyaskovichi where they lit candles in remembrance of Chernobyl catastrophe victims and then talked to local residents. According to Alexander Lukashenko, 26 April is a sorrowful day for the nations of Belarus and Ukraine. In his words, the state of affairs in the areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster is getting better although a fair share of hardships and difficulties can be observed. The presidents expressed readiness to discuss ways to improve living conditions in Chernobyl-affected regions further during the bilateral talks.
The presidents discussed topical issues during the one-on-one meeting and extended negotiations attended by the representatives of delegations. Special attention was drawn to the prospects of trade and economic cooperation. Alexander Lukashenko mentioned certain progress in this field. In particular, in the first months of 2017 the trade surged by 40%. “Of course, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed. We are accompanied by experts and government members. We are ready to discuss the issues and take concrete decisions. I want to assure: all of the decisions that we will take with you today will be strictly adhered to by Belarus,” he said.
At the negotiations the heads of state focused on concrete projects of the Belarusian-Ukrainian partnership. The countries are going to step up efforts to set up new joint enterprises in various industries. “A priority should be given to the cooperation in industry, petrochemical sector, agriculture, transport and logistics. Belarus is ready to increase the supplies of transport vehicles and farm machines, fertilizers and building materials to Ukraine. In turn, we are interested in the purchase of metal products, crop and livestock goods," the Belarusian leader noted.
The governments of the two countries were instructed to maximize the use of available tools to support the ties between the enterprises of Belarus and Ukraine and to bolster inter-industry ties.
Another issue on the agenda was the regulation of the crisis in Ukraine. “With the help of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Belarus plans to send humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine who live on both sides of the contact line. We will provide for the most basic needs: food, personal care products. We will work together to find the shortest path to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches the people on one side of the contact line and on the other,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The President underlined that the Belarusian side will continue to do whatever is necessary to resolve the conflict in the east of Ukraine, so that the fraternal people live in peace and harmony. “At least, I am not ashamed to look into the eyes of the Ukrainian people and the President of Ukraine. We have honored everything that the Ukrainian friends asked us about. We have done everything we could and will do in the future,” the Belarusian head of state said.
The Ukrainian leader, in turn, thanked Belarus for its peacemaking efforts. He stressed that the Minsk agreement is the only plan towards peace and stability in Ukraine and expressed hope for a prompt settlement of the conflict.
Petro Poroshenko invited the Belarusian leader to pay an official visit to Ukraine in summer in order to seal existing agreements.