The inter-action of regions plays an important role in the development of Belarus-Russia cooperation, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in his speech at the plenary meeting of the 7th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia on 29 September.
“The today’s summit is important for the Union State as the continuation of the dialogue w3hich I started with the President of the Russian Federation in Sochi in September 2020. This is another important step to the enhancement of good-neighborly relations and development of cooperation between our brotherly nations,” the President said.
He remarked that the forum of such regional cooperation is rather efficient. In the period of six years the sides signed over 300 agreements to the tune of more than $2 billion. “This is a big contribution to the development of the social and economic potential of Belarus and Russia. I am convinced that this year’s summit will be as good as the previous ones,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“The course of history proves that only together, with joint efforts, we will be able to make significant progress,” the head of state stressed.
“We are proud that Belarusians and Russians, together with other USSR peoples, made a decisive contribution to the victory over fascism. This year we have celebrated a sacred event for all of us - the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War,” the Belarusian leader said.
He said that the USSR peoples had suffered enormous losses in that war. Every third inhabitant was killed in Belarus alone. During the years of occupation, the German invaders destroyed 209 out of 270 Belarusian cities and district centers, and almost 2,000 villages. “We fought for every piece of our native land. Our country is well-known for a nationwide resistance movement during the war. Even children fought against fascists. In late 1943 some 60% of the country's territory was under the control of people's avengers,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“Belarus and Russia treasure the memory of that war. Even in the tiniest village there is an obelisk with a red star. None of them have been abandoned or destroyed. We continue erecting memorials. For example, the Trostenets memorial complex has been built on the site of the former Nazi concentration camp near Minsk. That was the fourth biggest death factory in Europe behind Auschwitz, Majdanek and Treblinka. More than 200,000 people were killed there,” the head of state said.
“We cannot calmly observe the attempts of individual countries to rewrite history, diminish the feat of the Soviet people, and question the decisive contribution of the Soviet Union to the victory over Nazi Germany and its allies,” the Belarusian leader said.
He thanked Russian colleagues for the initiative in the Inter-Parliamentary Union to recognize the victory in World War II as the global heritage of mankind, and monuments to soldiers who fought against Nazism in all countries as the world memorial of humanity.
“The falsification of history is a real threat to the stability of society and carries risks of national, social, and religious divisions. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the forum discusses joint measures to counter the distortion of the truth about the war,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He considers it necessary to work together to draft a new UN General Assembly resolution "Fighting the glorification of Nazism and the spread of Neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."
"But our efforts will be in vain if we do not pass the baton of remembrance over to the youth. Using the latest technologies, they try to impose false values on the younger generation: the cult of consumerism, individualism, social irresponsibility. This is alien to the traditions and worldview of our peoples whose values have been unity, cohesion and willingness to come to the aid of each other," Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
The President noted that this work is under the closest attention of the Union State parliamentarians. The Youth Chamber at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union State of Belarus and Russia actively involves young people in bilateral cooperation projects. "But this work needs to be made more specific, assertive and efficient," the Belarusian leader believes.
Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke about various fields of cooperation between Belarus and Russia. These include science, trade and the economy, investment projects.
Leading universities of the two countries are implementing a number of joint educational and research projects, developing study guides together. As of today, about 11,000 Belarusians study in Russian universities, and more than 1,500 Russians study in the Republic of Belarus. “However, it is necessary to further promote cooperation in education through student exchange programs, training courses, forums and conferences, student brigades,” the President believes.
Since 2000, the two countries have fulfilled more than 50 Union State programs in technology and innovation. Comprehensive dialogue has been established between the Belarus Hi-Tech Park and the Skolkovo Innovation Center.
“The preservation of the existing dynamics is a priority,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the nearest forums should focus on cooperation in the information space and measures to ensure the information security of the Union State.
The head of state also mentioned the signing of the agreement on the mutual recognition of visas in June 2020. This agreement will help improve Belarus’ transit, tourism and investment appeal.
“The governments managed to come to terms in oil supplies this year, the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, changing conditions of government lending and borrowing,” the President remarked.
At the same time, the President mentioned a number of pending issues on the agenda. “One of the main issues is the creation of equal conditions for Belarusian and Russian economic operators. We are ready to discuss all proposals aimed at strengthening common economic security. However, we must remember that no significant progress is possible without honoring our obligations,” he said.
“Belarus’ position has been and remains stable and predictable. It is focused on mutually beneficial cooperation. I am convinced that in this situation the voice of the forum will be heard by the governments of the two countries, and it will help solve those issues,” the head of state added.
He also expressed confidence that the Belarusian-Russian relations will be increasingly vibrant in the best interests of the brotherly nations of the two countries.