Aleksandr Lukashenko attends solemn gathering before Independence Day

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Belarus has learned to deal with traditional challenges threatening its independence and will be able to protect its sovereignty in the new, rapidly changing world, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a solemn gathering in the run-up to Independence Day held on 1 July.

“3 July is our major national holiday, the Independence Day. This day is designed to unite our entire nation. It is the day of our glory and honor, memory of our past, pride for our present and hopes for the future,” the President noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that this day has two symbolic meanings: “It is the symbol of the youth of the Republic of Belarus, the state that was born just two decades ago. At the same time, it is the symbol of the thousand year history of the Belarusian nation that has protected and taken care of its Homeland for many centuries”.

The President said Belarus celebrates the major state holiday on the day “when the vicious Nazi banner was trampled down into the blood sodden land of our capital, the Hero City of Minsk”.

“Over the centuries our nation has craved for just one thing – to live and work freely and peacefully. However, the history had other plans for our country. For many centuries we had to take to arms to defend the native land. These words symbolically reveal a sacred meaning of the Belarusian past. Belarus has no history of invading other countries. However, everyone who attempted to subdue our land using weapons never returned back home,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

Belarus has never given up on its aspiration for a national state despite all the wars and revolutions, devastations and burnt homes, starvation and cold, blood, sweat and tears, the President remarked.

“At the end of the last century we got the chance of a lifetime to take part in the establishment of the first Belarusian state, to live in this country, protect its independence and sovereignty,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

He noted: “We did not have any experience; nobody was there to give us advice”. “The history gave us no time to think; besides strengthening our statehood, we had to address everyday issues of survival. We have survived; not only have we established our state, but also learnt to respond to traditional threats to our independence,” the head of state emphasized.

“First of all, we have secured the unity of the nation, domestic peace and comfort. It is our unity that breaks all the external attempts to spark off a riot or a devastating revolution in Belarus. It is the unity of the nation that makes the foundation of our economic development,” the President said.

The head of state remarked: “Jointly with our closest allies, first of all, with our fraternal Russia, we maintain the security of our country and secure protection of the western borders of the Union State. I think today no one thinks of threatening Belarus with a war.” The President underlined that having developed our own social and economic model, we have guaranteed economic security as well. Belarus produces enough food for its people as well as supplies foodstuffs abroad. “Our industrial products, despite tough competition find the way to foreign markets. The country earns with the help of its intellect and labor, not by selling out the national wealth and inflating financial bubbles,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Today we have come to a new point-breaking phase in our history. Belarus should learn to cope with new threats to independence and protect its sovereignty in this new rapidly changing world, the President stated.

“We can divide these threats into two parts – objective, which do not depend on us, and subjective, which are dependable. On the one hand, there are those, which are predestined by the external world, our history and geography. On the other hand, there are those, which are created by us, our weaknesses,” the head of state said.

“For any nation, for any individual, it is vital to see these things clearly. We cannot hide behind the so-called objective reasons, disguising our own mistakes, inertia and laziness. We also should understand the limits of our own possibilities in order to avoid building castles in the air and hare-brained schemes,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

The President emphasized that a part of objective threats to independence lies on the surface: “First of all, it is a deficit in natural resources and energy. Secondly, it is a steadily increasing competition on foreign markets. Thirdly, it is Belarus’ objective dependence on the world economy, which is still suffering from a lingering crisis.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Belarus is learning to cope with these challenges. However, this process is too slow. We are still lagging behind rapidly changing external conditions, the head of state remarked.

According to the President, given the contemporary threats, the key to the solution is the accelerated diversification of energy supplies, trade and economy as a whole.

“We should work to reduce our dependence on one energy source, one market or one vendor. This is why we made a decision in favor of the nuclear power plant construction. In power engineering this project is the foundation of our energy security,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

“We also need to promote alternative energy such as thermal water, wind power, inexhaustible solar heat," the President believes.

“Scientific progress is fast-paced. It is likely that it is in these areas that the mankind will make a giant breakthrough in the coming decades. Belarus should not stay away from this process,” the head of state is confident.

According to the President, Belarus should act as aggressively in seeking out new markets. “Our contacts with the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, which just yesterday seemed exotic, help strengthen our sovereignty today,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

“Toughening competition on traditional markets is a blatant challenge to us. We should make an immediate response to it, i.e. by any means to keep our old markets and do our best to develop new ones,” the head of state said.

The President added: “We should understand that the world market is very moody. It is hard to predict customers’ behavior, which is influenced by hundreds of factors at one time. Under these conditions we should stake on the manufacturing of products, which are least dependent on the changing market.” Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled the time when Belarus was heavily criticized for focusing on agriculture.’’’

“Today we see that agriculture has not just become one of the bases of our exports. Well-developed agriculture is a cornerstone of our independence. We ensure food security of our country. We make a product, which will always be in demand abroad. The demand for cars or TV sets, for instance, can rise or fall. The man will always need food to survive. So the demand for quality food, the same as for clothes and housing, will be always steady,” the President emphasized.

“Everything I have just said, be it toughening competition, global financial fever and a fierce struggle for resources, are all the result of globalization, this planet-wide process,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

According to the President, this process has not been fully realized yet. “Mankind just starts learning the sweet and bitter fruits of globalization. It just starts getting accustomed in this new world that rapidly changing the meaning of such notions as the country’s independence and sovereignty, which remained irrevocable for centuries”.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that globalization has been involving countries and nations into the worldwide whirlpool of information, goods and technologies, ideas and resources. Trading barriers come down, visa obstacles are taken away, cultural differences vanish. Today one needs less than 24 hours to reach the world’s end and seconds to share information with a person there.

The head of state remarked that globalization takes the process of sharing knowledge and ideas onto an unprecedented level, which in turn spurs sci-tech progress. “Globalization intensifies competition, making the most powerful engine for the world’s economic development. It gives new goods and services to millions of new consumers, enhancing the quality of people’s life,” the President stressed.

At the same time, the head of state pointed out that globalization carries veiled threats, part of which we do not even realize.

“Becoming more technologically advanced, the world is getting more vulnerable,” the President noted. “A terrorist attack in one city can put a threat to the security in the whole region. One demonstration is capable of sparking off a civil war in the country, which can even involve neighbors. Speculative activities of anonymous floor traders can undermine the economy of many, even well-developed, states,” he added.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the future can turn out to be even darker: “Hacker attacks are able to paralyze the life of whole megalopolises. Tomorrow they can take a leap from Hollywood movies into the real life. Tomorrow one will be able to put gigantic companies out of action with one click on his computer thousands of kilometers away”.

Neither separate countries nor the entire mankind have adequate protection from these threats, the President said.

In his words, all these things have a direct impact on our independence. Every day we are becoming more dependent on external factors, which we cannot influence. According to the President, it is not only energy reliance. Shrewd stock and bank speculative activities have a bigger impact on the world economy than the correlation of real productive forces. “The market situation, prices and capital movement heavily depend on these invisible financial games. Our export-oriented economy seems to be a small boat in this rough global ocean,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

According to the President, Belarus is involved in the global rapid information flow. Information civilization has long moved from the spiritual and intellectual world into the virtual one. There are few things left in the world that are not dependent on the Internet. “Everything from financial payments and exchange trade to energy and transport management depends, in one way or another, on the World Wide Web. This dependency will be increasing. Therefore, the security of our country in all real sectors will depend increasingly on the security in the virtual space,” the head of state noted.

The President is convinced that new information technologies and the Internet offer not only great opportunities, but also pose a direct threat to the sovereignty of countries and individuals. There is proof to that. “The United States backed by leading hi-tech corporations are building an unprecedented system of total surveillance and control,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. If things go as they are going, in a couple of years there will be no place on the Earth where an ordinary person will have some privacy. Each move, action, preference will be recorded by ubiquitous electronic devices. “It seemed unreal yesterday. But today we see that this will become our reality tomorrow,” the head of state remarked.

“I have been often criticized for calling the United States a modern dictatorship. We have never wanted to offend or hurt this great country. But are the attempts to create a global surveillance network not the sign of ambitions to establish dictatorship and totalitarianism? And not only on the part of the United States, as we have recently seen,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added: “We in Belarus do not seek to control the private life of our residents. More than that, the right to privacy and protection of private life have been and will be fundamental principles of our policy. This is how we show our commitment to true democratic values, and, most importantly, our respect for human dignity,” the President assured.

The President believes that in cooperation with other countries, partners and allies Belarus needs to learn to resist the attempts to establish the global electronic dictatorship. “Our networks, databases, communication channels, state secrets, and also the privacy of our citizens must be reliably protected from any foreign interference,” he stressed.

However, Aleksandr Lukashenko admitted that it is easier said than done. “But we have no other choice. The world has already entered into an era of undeclared cyber wars, and we have no right to lose here. Of course, we may not be able to single-handedly withstand all global technologies. This is why we must dramatically step up cooperation with our allies, particularly with the People's Republic of China - the country that has managed to create an effective system for the protection of the national cyberspace,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said and added that he plans to discuss the issue with the Chinese leadership.

Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that among all the new challenges and threats the information security is the key one. “This does not mean that we wish to fence off the rest of the world or somehow restrict legitimate freedoms of our citizens on the Internet. On the contrary,” the President said. Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that Belarus has declared a strategic course for accelerated IT developed: "Soon we will step up our effort here. Technology gap in the information sector is also a formidable challenge. We must not allow it. In the next few years Belarus will try to become at least a regional leader in the development of the digital economy and informatization of all aspects of life.”

“It is this area where struggle for our independence, so to speak, will be concentrated in the coming years," the head of state noted. In his view, the ability to successfully meet these challenges will determine the continued existence of the real independence of Belarus.

“As President, I must tell you what we should expect tomorrow. I have to tell you about something dangerous that is hidden, that few know about. I want the society to understand me properly, because after my speech, as is often the case, some websites will present the information in such a way as to show that Lukashenko wants to intimidate someone,” the head of state said. In this regard, the head of state explained: "We are not going to fence ourselves off, because only the weak hide under the broom, run round the corner and see what is happening. History does not allow this.” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that being involved in global information processes Belarus will not cut off itself from the world, and will learn to fight in this whirlpool to stay independent. "This is the whole point of this," the head of state said.

The President also pointed out another important threat: “Globalization standardizes not only production and technologies. It washes out old moral values, destroys the uniqueness of various countries and nations”.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that ever year the world becomes more and more dynamic. At the same time, it is boring and uniform. There are networks of similar shops, restaurants, hotels. The same cars can be seen in the streets, people wear clothes of the same brands, etc. “Production and consumption adjustment, harshly controlled fashion, inclusion of hundreds of millions of people into one information network slowly destroy the diversity of the human civilization,” the head of state is convinced.

The President stressed that under these conditions it is vital for Belarus to preserve traditions, cultural and mental uniqueness. “This is why we have been recently holding more events such as festivals and contests in order to keep what had been developed for many centuries before us,” the head of state explained.

“We all should understand: independence is, among other things, the right to defend moral values, the right to live honestly in compliance with the natural laws and human morals,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

“The debates over same-sex marriages that have recently gained strength are not just an annoyingly frequent episode. It is a tragic sign of the common spiritual crisis and blindness of the western world. It is an evidence of the weakening inner will,” the President said. The head of state pointed with regret to the ongoing abandonment of basic traditional values of the European civilization, destruction of the very meaning of the family as a natural union between man and woman.

At the same time, the consumer society takes a person into an endless circle of continuous rush for rapidly changing new products and technological novelties, depriving his life of serenity and the balance of mind. “It is of no surprise that all these provoke protests among many people. The European youth start seeking a way out of this suffocating consumer world and unfortunately more often they find it in radical theories,” the President noted. In his words, the crisis of national and human identity becomes evident.

“Rejection of traditional morals destroys the society and releases the darkest instincts which were hidden in the human soul. The same will threaten the modern civilization if it continues to move along the path of rejecting human nature and turning a blind eye on unnatural perversions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes.

The President stressed that in modern conditions it is no longer enough to control territory, have an army, a reliable national security system to ensure the country’s independence. “The new time has created new requirements. And if we do not rethink new challenges and threats we will be at risk of losing our independence not because we will be physically enslaved, but because we will be subdued technologically and ideologically,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced. In this regard the head of state reminded of the role of each person in promoting and maintaining the country’s independence. “We should understand it clearly: the country’s independence is everybody’s concern”. “If the country pushes itself to the limit, while people remain passive and disengaged, everything is doomed,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. He added that each and every person can and should make a contribution to the protection of the independence and security of Belarus.

The President reminded that the Belarusian state has done a lot to protect its citizens. “We did not throw our people into the abyss of the wild market of the heady 1990s. Having no natural resources, we have built a welfare economy that makes sure that people are taken care of, have a job, affordable medicine and education, enjoy peace and security, and are not left behind when they get old. We have always pushed and will keep pushing hard the state machine and officials to make them serve the people, discourage them from stealing, and encourage them to live humbly,” the President said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, a strong state has also an adverse side. It makes the nation too relaxed and carefree. “We need to face the truth. Laziness and welfare mentality become more and more widespread here. More often people would say: “Why would I do anything? It is the state that should take care of me”. These are the aforementioned subjective treats to our independence. These are our inertia and laziness, ignorance and rudeness, lack of order and discipline, slovenliness, alcohol abuse, careless attitude to work and other things”.

The President enumerated several reasons that do not let domestic goods successfully compete on foreign markets. “There are some human factors behind it. We often work badly, in a slipshod manner. We have not eradicated alcohol abuse at the workplace. Technologies are not always observed; many are totally disengaged; hard work is becoming a rare thing,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He added that these problems can be found not only in the manufacturing industry, but also in the services sector.

“All these everyday things add up to result in the lower output (compared to Americans) and lower quality (compared to Germans). Our people do not strain as much as Chinese, Koreans or Japanese do,” the head of state said. At the same time, the President emphasized that there are hundreds of thousands of conscientious and hard working people who are the backbone of the country. “However, there are also many drunkards and idlers out there who believe that the state can and should do absolutely everything for them. More than that, they are on the way of those who want to work and discourage those who want to work,” the President said. He noted that a welfare mentality is getting a grip even on the so-called free market advocates. “It is funny to see how people call for absolute liberalization, for the state’s total withdrawal in theory, however, if a problem emerges these people start nagging, saying ‘where is the state, why officials do not work and so on and so forth’,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Our way of thinking is simple: the state should do everything, for example, to pay pensions, give jobs, provide gas, build roads, plant greenery, bring up abandoned children and treat drunkards,” the President said.

“If some people think that the state should do everything for everyone, they are dangerously mistaken. This is a direct way to the nation’s degradation, stagnation and downfall,” Aleksandr Lukashenko warned. He added that all people should be patriots responsible for the state.

“We can be confident about the future of independent Belarus only if each and every citizen will ask himself: what I have done for my country, not what the country should do for me. So far, people tend to ask the second question and often fail to ask themselves the first question,” the President said.

“This does not mean that the feeling of patriotism died away in the hearts of our people. Danger holds us together and reveals the best qualities. And eventually it appears that patriotism is nobler than mean-spirited egoism. Probably, today some may think that there is nothing more important than personal happiness and wellbeing which stand above the interests of the Homeland. This is a mistake. Alone a person is helpless in this world. And when danger comes it is only possible to withstand together. In the history of every nation there are moments when Honor becomes more important that life,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

“In the atrocious summer of 1941 when our armies dropped back and were mousetrapped, when steel serpents of Wehrmacht sprawled across the Belarusian land, when the last hope almost perished the nation heard the most important words of that war: “We have the right cause. The enemy will be defeated. We will win”. History proved that winners are those who are ready to fight till the very end and sacrifice everything,” the head of state concluded.

Aleksandr Lukashenko wished Happy Independence Day to all Belarusians.