The forthcoming Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 is not meant to attack anyone, and foreign observers can make sure of it, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at the meeting with the top-ranking representatives of the State Secretariat of the Security Council of Belarus, law enforcement bodies and national security agencies on 5 September.
“Before the beginning of the active phase of the Zapad 2017 army exercise I would like to listen to the report of the Defense Ministry on the situation in this field. I would like to say that it is time we already stopped explaining ourselves saying that the exercise is defensive. We have an army, a joint army group of Belarus and Russia in the western direction. It exists (we have never concealed this fact from anyone), and it should be trained. Just in case,” the Belarusian leader said.
“We are not going to attack anyone. We have invited almost everyone willing to attend our exercise. Let them come and see,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
At the meetng the President emphasized that national security bodies should take an active part in the development of the economy, including the fulfillment of the cost saving policy, eradication of fraud and other violations.
“I am not speaking about toughening regulations. We are not going to do it. In this context, it is essential to once again take stock of the criminal and administrative laws. We need to remove superfluous things. This process is underway. But while working on this, please do not throw the baby out with the bath water. We do not need obsolete laws. The new ones should promote the development of the economy rather than impede it,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
Alexander Lukashenko said that the prosecutor general was instructed to collect overdue debts owned by foreign partners to Belarusian economic operators and to supervise the timely payment of salaries. “Today we take loans with a certain interest rate, while hundreds of millions of dollars stay abroad when we are not paid for goods and services,” the head of state remarked.
He also asked about the recovery of economic losses from crimes.
The participants of the meetings also discussed the security and rights of underage children, prevention of domestic violence and alcohol abuse. “The interior minister and I have once concluded that we must pay special attention to the prevention of serious offences and crimes in rural areas. What is the progress here?” the President wondered.
The ways to prevent negligence and unreasonable economic losses during the harvest campaign were also discussed. “The instructions were given to secure a tough control over the organization of the harvest campaign. We should have finally got rid of negligence, unreasonable economic losses, embezzlement, corrupt practices, and scheming,” the head of state said.
He stressed that he instructed the law-enforcement bodies and public prosecution officers to keep an eye on the order and discipline during the harvest campaign.
“There is no return to the Soviet system. Although, in the Soviet times there were a lot of good things and we are doing our best to keep them in place. I want to say that this negligence costs us a lot. You can calculate: for instance, some 10% loss of the harvest (the natural loss envisaged by agrarians) means 1 million tonnes of grain out of a 10-million-tonne harvest. Let us multiple it by $200, which is a world market price. The rough estimate gives us big losses,” the President said.
“What were the issues during the harvest campaign? Which matters require our attention?” the Belarusian leader wondered.