Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Russia’s Astrakhan Oblast Governor Alexander Zhilkin

    Belarus could use Astrakhan Oblast of Russia to advance into the Caspian Sea region. The prospects for enhancing cooperation between Belarus and Astrakhan Oblast were on the agenda of the meeting of President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko and Astrakhan Oblast Governor Alexander Zhilkin.

    The Belarusian head of state believes that Belarus and Astrakhan Oblast have robust opportunities to promote cooperation.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus views Astrakhan Oblast as a reliable and promising partner. The bilateral trade between Belarus and the region of Russia increased threefold over the past three years. The President believes that the sides have much bigger prospects and can build up mutual trade.

    According to the President, direct links with Russian regions contribute to the development of vibrant economic cooperation between the two countries.

    “We should make an ample use of the potential of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space. I am confident that economic operators of our countries still have big untapped potential for cooperation,” the head of state believes.

    According to the Belarusian President, simple commodity relations are geared to yesterday. “Today in order to be able to face the future with confidence we should take our bilateral cooperation onto a qualitatively new level and embark on the implementation of mutually beneficial projects,” the head of state believes.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus is prepared to participate in the programs of Astrakhan Oblast development, including projects to upgrade the region’s industrial, agricultural, construction and housing sectors.

    For instance, Belarusian companies could take part in the development of hydrocarbon deposits in Astrakhan Oblast. Alexander Zhilkin, in turn, noted that Astrakhan Oblast has huge deposits of hydrocarbon raw materials, gas and oil alike, and there are many strategic deposits.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarusian builders have great experience in designing major infrastructure, social and industrial facilities and residential buildings.

    Moreover, Belarus is ready to help implement the Clean Water program and upgrade the water supply system. Belarus can also share its expertise and knowledge in cattle breeding, construction of vegetable storages, milk processing facilities and dairy farms. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, there are promising projects in other sectors of the economy. The President believes that there are interesting cooperation avenues the parties should explore. However, Belarus and Astrakhan Oblast should not just focus on the agricultural industry.

    According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus and Astrakhan Oblast could also expand ties in healthcare, education, culture and tourism.

    The Belarusian President suggested discussing the most promising areas of cooperation between Belarus and Astrakhan Oblast.

    Alexander Zhilkin said that Belarus can view Astrakhan Oblast as a springboard to advance into the Caspian Sea region.

    Alexander Zhilkin remarked that Astrakhan Oblast enjoys good relations with the countries in the Caspian Sea area. “We border on Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan. At present considerable efforts are poured into the development of economic projects in the area, industrialization of the Caspian Sea area shores is in progress. The potential that Astrakhan Oblast has in the economic, industrial, and agricultural areas fits all the projects, which are going on in the area, rather well,” the Astrakhan Oblast Governor said.

    He stressed that many Belarusian products are in demand in all the Caspian Sea area countries. Belarus-made agricultural machines account for 76% of the machines used in the Oblast. The Governor believes that the figure testifies to the quality of Belarusian products.

    Alexander Zhilkin remarked that for Astrakhan Oblast the cooperation avenues suggested by the Belarusian side look interesting. The number includes the Clean Water program, animal husbandry and other areas.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko and Alexander Zhilkin discussed supplies of goods, agricultural and municipal machines, and establishment of joint ventures in agriculture. Belarus is interested in Astrakhan Oblast’s experience in sheep breeding and sturgeon production. Belarus could in turn share technologies, expertise and knowledge in cattle breeding, construction of vegetable storages, milk processing facilities and dairy farms.

    Alexander Zhilkin invited Belarus to join the project to develop cotton production in Astrakhan Oblast. Belarus boasts cotton processing facilities and Belarusian companies could produce and supply the necessary machinery to cotton producers. “The interest is big – production, equipment, processing. We might consider establishing a joint holding company together with Astrakhan Oblast,” the Belarusian President said.