Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko lit a Christmas candle near the Icon of the Mother of God of Minsk at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk to mark Christmas celebrated by Orthodox Christians on 7 January.
The Belarusian head of state met with Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl Pavel, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus. Attending the event were also the laity, representatives of Orthodox brotherhoods and sisterhoods, and Sunday school students.
“I wish this holiday bring you peace, understanding, and wellbeing. I wish the fulfillment of your desires, at least those related to your loved ones, families, and, especially, children. I wish Merry Christmas to Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, our guests, and all Orthodox Christians. Merry Christmas to everyone,” Alexander Lukashenko wished.
The President donated the Icon of Mother of God of “Tender Feeling”, made from the 15thcentury Icon “Tender Feeling” of Malorita, to the Belarusian Orthodox Church. The icon was made using unique wax tempera techniques.
Metropolitan Pavel presented Alexander Lukashenko with the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, blessed on Mount Athos.
“I wish the Mother of God to defend our people, defend you, the head of this wonderful state, make you stronger, both spiritually and physically. Let the Mother of God guard our Belaya Rus, our good people. Let the new year be blessed, peaceful and successful. Of course, as you always stress, this will largely depend on us. We will pray, work, and the God’s blessing will accompany us,” Metropolitan Pavel said.
There is a need for unity between nations and inside the church, Alexander Lukashenko said during the visit to the church. “There are talks of the need to separate, stand out, something else like that. You know the life will set the things straight. There is no need in putting the cart before the horse. There is no need in raising issues which do not exist yet. We feel fine that today we are together with our brotherly nations: Russians, Ukrainians, other nations and nationalities who live in our states,” the Belarusian leader said.
“I spoke at the Synod about the issues we have to address in the church and the state. It has nothing to do with the proposals to cut the ties and separate. We should not do this. We need to stay calm and settle the matters we have today and also look into the future, but not too far, of course. Otherwise, we can make mistakes. Nowadays, it would be inadmissible. We also should be careful with choosing priorities during these turbulent and uncertain times,” noted the President.
Alexander Lukashenko noted that on Christmas people think a lot about eternal uniting values. “We always speak about moral virtues, sources of spiritual strength. In this temple I would like to mention another important value. It is our church, our main Christian churches. They have always been and, I hope, will remain in the center of unity. They will be the main power uniting peoples, the nation, us, in this very case,” the President said.
In his words, the Belarusian authority views the Orthodox Church as a very good partner, a supporter of all good ideas in the state, such as the restoration of holy places, the support of the family, morality, cultural values. “Church has always lent its shoulder to our people. It has always been in the epicenter of all the important events,” the head of state added.
Alexander Lukashenko believes that the pastoral word is vital in the current modern world where an individual often finds it difficult to find his or her way and understand the processes that are taking place around. “Our church is the most responsible church in the world, the fairest and most sincere. Our church has never told lies to our people. I should also note that we also have never given reasons for our church to behave inappropriately,” the President noted.
The church and the situation around and inside it will always depend on the people themselves. “What church is will depend on the people. The same is true with the authorities. We should always remember this. The future year, as the previous one, will depend solely on us,” the President said.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s wellbeing and economic development largely depend on the contribution of its citizens. “You can rely on the state, but in the matters which the state should address: security, the main areas of our development. Try to do what you can do yourself. If all people do their best, the state will pay back. I promise you this,” the President said.
The President stressed that everything necessary will be done for the Belarusian state to grow stronger and stay independent.
“I mentioned it in my New Year’s address. The only thing we should pay attention to today is economy. If we make headway amid the current turbulent crisis period, it will surely have its impact on the wellbeing of our people. If we make this step, it will give us confidence,” Alexander Lukashenko noted.
In his words, the previous year was difficult, especially in what concerned the relations with the neighbors and trade partners. “This restrained us from achieving the preset performance targets. But I am sure these matters are solvable,” the head of state added.
“You should understand the main formula of our policy: we will allow no one to degrade our people and the state. This is the basic of our policy. If someone does not understand this, it will be hard for us to build relations and even talk with them. We cannot give away our land and this state. We won it in battles and wars. We lost huge numbers of people while defending our land. That is why we, and I personally, are highly sensitive about such issues,” the head of state said.
“The main thing for us is to ensure stability. Peace and harmony are above everything. If we shake our Belarus, we will never find it funny. Such bad experiences are not far to seek (we do not need to look at the Middle East, Africa, Asia). We have a bright example just across the border,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
“We will never go down the path of confrontation, creating difficulties or any other additional problems. There are enough problems in the world today. We will always be stable. We will stay responsible, honest and fair,” the President said.
“You should understand that everyone taken separately, as well as me, the Belarusian head of state, will allow no one to throw stones at us. We have a state, sovereign and independent (whether someone likes it or not). We have a state with a rich history. We know it well. This state should be treated with respect. We should be treated the same way we treat our neighbors, all the states in this world,” said Alexander Lukashenko.
The President said that his major task is to cherish the land of the Belarusian nation, defend its statehood. “I am delighted to see that our church goes hand in hand with me and our people,” he added.