4th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia

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Belarus and Russia get considerable advantages by pooling their capabilities. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement during the plenary session of the 4th Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia in Moscow on 30 June.

“This year we’ve celebrated the 20th anniversary of the UnionState of Belarus and Russia. The date symbolizes the choice of the main development vector, the mutual aspiration for integration and deep interaction in social, economic, humanitarian and other affairs. A lot has been done in the two decades. Manufacturing cooperation and ongoing UnionState programs testify to the effectiveness of combining the material and intellectual capabilities of our countries. The Belarusian and Russian economies get considerable advantages as a result,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

It was emphasized that Belarus and Russia had achieved considerable results in integration. Other countries have not been able to secure such results so far. “One can say we’ve done well,” the President added.

Interregional cooperation occupies an important place in Belarus-Russia cooperation, the head of state noted. The forums of regions of Belarus and Russia have become an open platform for a trustful conversation about topical issues, pointed out the Belarusian head of state. “Without any flattery I would like to thank the heads of the upper chambers of the Belarusian and Russian parliaments. They are ‘the engines’ of this integration movement. I am very pleased with their cooperation in this regard. They take matters of the forum close to heart.”

The President said that the annual forums allow maintaining permanent ties between representatives of central and municipal government agencies of Belarus and Russia. So far 70 agreements signed by the Belarusian government and the administrations of constituent territories of the Russian Federation have come into effect. Each of them is accompanied by a concrete program of actions for a period of three to four years.

“The previous forums focused on matters of agriculture, production sector, and social policy. Today we are moving on towards a new technological age. Cooperation in the spheres of high technologies and information society is particularly pertinent today. If we fall behind, we will be doomed to stay behind. Nothing will save us then, including the potential and hydrocarbons, because you can see in what direction and how fast the entire world is developing.”

The head of state underlined that serious attention is paid to these matters in Belarus. “The development of the production sector, which generates 25% of the country’s GDP, is one of the main priorities of the Belarusian economy. High-tech and science-intensive industries account for more than one third of the GDP,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “Suffice it to say that three years ago — good timing, I guess — we set out to achieve an ambitious goal concerning the innovation-driven development of Belarus. We can see now that we did the right thing. But when we looked at international experience, we cried since we are already falling behind developed economies.” In his words, it is necessary to bridge the gap now.

A government program was adopted in January 2017 to guide Belarus’ innovation-driven development till 2020. The program lists 75 projects for setting up new manufacturing enterprises. The program is supposed to ensure quality growth and the competitive ability of the national economy while concentrating resources on forming high-tech sectors. “I think that respected research institutions of Russia will always be able to find attractive avenues of cooperation with Belarusian colleagues,” the President said. “I am convinced that it will be easier for our countries with their unique opportunities and cooperation experience to take a confident step into the future in order to worthily compete on the global market.”

The cooperation of Belarus and Russia in information technology is becoming one of the pillars of the strategic partnership. He highlighted such areas as human development, raising the efficiency of state administration in the economy and social sector, building digital economy, and ensuring security of the people and the state.

“I would like to note that the contacts in information technology could be developing in a more dynamic way at such well-performing platforms, as for example, the widely known Hi-Tech Park in Minsk,” the head of state said.

More than a billion people in 193 countries use mobile apps of HTP resident companies today; over 90% of the software produced in the Hi-Tech Park is exported to Russia and the CIS, Western Europe and the United States. “We intend to accomplish an ambitious goal: converting Belarus into an IT country. We will pass the relevant legislation soon in order to foster the development of such a situation in Belarus,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He also spoke about the benefits of work at the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park Great Stone and special legal regime for creating favorable business conditions there.

“Deep manufacturing cooperation geared towards making high-tech science-intensive products is crucial to the successful overcoming of global challenges in the future. The batch production of such things must begin in Belarus and Russia as soon as possible. It is particularly important taking into account the growing competition on the global market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. The Belarusian head of state said that the development and pursuance of a coordinated Belarusian-Russian economic policy will greatly stimulate such manufacturing projects. It will help improve its export potential in addition to effectively achieving import substitution goals.

The personnel potential of science remains a key factor. This potential has been preserved and multiplied in Belarus. “We need to pay attention to the cooperation in training young scientists. I invite the Belarusian and Russian scientific communities to step up the efforts in this field. Young scientists should be given a free hand to maintain close contacts with their colleagues,” the Belarusian leader is convinced.

The President also believes that scientific schools should boost cooperation in every promising field and cited the collaboration of BelarusianStateUniversity and MoscowStateUniversity as an example.

“I am convinced that the programs financed in the UnionState should also meet high scientific criteria. We have already implemented over 40 UnionState scientific and technical programs in various industries. As a result, it was possible to combine the intellectual, technical, industrial, and financial capacities of Belarus and Russia, strengthen the national security,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state noted that Belarus develops cooperation with different regions of Russia. The country conducts joint agricultural projects even with Sakhalin. “We cooperate with Sakhalin, and, needless to say, with other Russian regions, especially those that border on Belarus. Here, at the top, we do not know about all of these examples. You are working hard, like ants, in a good sense. I would like to thank you for that. You are doing a good job, keep it up and develop our common space to demonstrate to others that sanctions and pressure are no obstacles for us. We will overcome any difficulties,” the President emphasized.

“Thanks to the brotherly relations between our people, we have great opportunities and resources to further enhance our mutually beneficial cooperation across the board. Regions play a crucial role in this. I would like to emphasize that all Russian regions are close to us regardless of the geographical distance,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“We hope for a similar attitude to Belarus in Russia. So far we have had no problems in this respect. We do not threaten each other. We visit each other like brothers, like family. These are not just idle declarations from rostrums. We see such attitudes at the grassroots level, be it with respect to social guarantees and rights of citizens, deliveries of Belarusian equipment, farm produce, research, and services,” the Belarusian leader added.

It is this approach that will enable the two states to achieve an advanced level of technological development and, what is most important, to maintain the unity and confidence in the future, the President stressed.