Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Plenipotentiary of Russian President in Siberian Federal District

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Belarus is interested in expanding effective all-round cooperation with Siberian regions, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko has said as he met with Plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation in the Siberian Federal District Viktor Tolokonsky on 17 June.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted over the past years Belarus and Siberia have made considerable progress in expanding trade and economic relations.

The head of state underlined that Belarus has always attached much attention to direct ties with Russian regions. “Thanks to this work, we managed to lay a solid foundation to intensify interstate relations and integration processes between our states,” the President said.

In his words, the Siberian Federal District is among Belarus’ major partners in Russia. In 2012 the aggregate trade of Belarus with Siberia regions neared $1.5 billion. The major trading partners included Kemerovo Oblast, Novosibirsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast, Irkutsk Oblast, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Altai Krai.

Last year the bilateral contacts intensified significantly. Belarus welcomed top officials of most of the Siberian regions. “We have adopted a kind of roadmaps to foster ties. We are also interested in closer cooperation with Khakassia, Altai, Buryatia, Tuva, Tomsk Oblast and the Trans-Baikal Territory,” the Belarusian head of state said. The President suggested that heads of Khakassia and Tomsk Oblast that came to Belarus as part of the delegation arrange visits of official and business delegations this year. “I am convinced that this will help outline the major cooperation avenues for the long-term perspective,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Addressing Head of the Council of Interregional Association “Siberian Accord” Viktor Zimin, the Belarusian President suggested discussing cooperation prospects not only with Khanassia, but also with the other 14 Siberian regions. “Your association concluded a protocol of cooperation with the Government of Belarus. Therefore, we can immediately proceed to the work to ramp up our ties. The potential of Siberia is huge, and the $1.5 billion in trade is just the beginning. A good beginning, but we are just at the very start,” the head of state is convinced.

Belarus’ major exports to Siberia include machinery and spare parts to it. Belarus imports coal, freight cars, carbon, rubber, component parts. The Belarusian President assured that the country will keep meeting Siberia’s needs in the products Belarus traditionally supplies to Siberia. “However, I think that we should increase the share of hi-tech and science-intensive products and give a bigger focus to the services sector. Belarusian specialists could be involved in projects in construction, mining, agriculture, municipal services and forestry,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He assured that Belarus is ready to promote cooperation with Siberian companies by means of expanding the assortment of products at existing joint ventures and via greenfield construction.

According to the President, collaboration in science, engineering and innovations is another cooperation priority. “Siberia has a huge scientific potential. It is obvious that we do not take advantage of cooperation opportunities in full. We need to step up our collaboration in this field,” the head of state believes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed hope that the visit will give a powerful boost to cooperation between Siberia and Belarus. “We do not need to have a closer look at each other. Let us not waste our time; after all, now the entire world is struggling through the crisis and it would be stupid to rely on this faraway world. We have amassed cooperation experience within the framework of the single state, therefore, let us move forward relying on this experience,” the President suggested.

Viktor Tolokonsky pointed out positive dynamics in the bilateral cooperation of Belarus with Siberian regions. “Our achievements over the past decade have been a huge step forward, a real breakthrough,” Viktor Tolokonsky said. “Cooperation, regional integration between Belarus and Russia plays an important role in the development of the economies. I wish these relations, this cooperation will maximally develop in the future,” Viktor Tolokonsky stressed.

In his words, Russian regions are interested Belarus’ management practices in various industries. “We face common problems. Today the issues of higher production efficiency, accelerated scientific and technical progress are very important. We are convinced that open, large-scale and high-quality economic, scientific, technical and cultural relations between us will affect the speed and quality of the region’s development,” the official said.

“For many Siberian regions Belarus has become a very important and even one of the main partners. We still have many opportunities and reserves for boosting cooperation, setting up joint ventures. We are ready to do our utmost for it,” Viktor Tolokonsky said.

First Vice Premier of Belarus Vladimir Semashko outlined a number of promising avenues to enhance cooperation with the Siberian Federal District.

In particular, Belarus can offer various schemes to provide equipment, including leasing. The region needs modern urban transport, logging equipment, elevators. Agriculture is another promising industry for cooperation. “We would like to consider the issue of setting up joint ventures to process meat and milk in the region,” Vladimir Semashko remarked.

Viktor Tolokonsky expressed eagerness to develop cooperation in all abovementioned areas.

“For us this interest is very important. We will never abandon our conventional partner, our friends with whom we can talk without interpreters. We are fraternal peoples and need to cooperate,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.