Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa

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Belarus and Sri Lanka are eager to advance bilateral cooperation to a brand-new level. The statement was made by President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa during their meeting in Minsk on 26 August.

At the beginning of the one-on-one meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus is ready for closer cooperation with Sri Lanka and other states of the region.

“We are convinced that your people, your state have a bright future. We stand ready to develop not just normal relations. We seek closer ties with your state and other countries of the region with your help,” the Belarusian head of state said.

According to the President of Belarus, over a relatively short period of time the two countries have been able to work out a number of proposals to expand bilateral cooperation. The Belarusian leader believes it is time the two countries took concrete decisions for further development of cooperation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the similarity of Belarus and Sri Lanka's domestic and foreign policies. “In domestic policy, you seek to stabilize the situation, to secure peace and quiet on your land. You are developing a socially-oriented economy, with the focus on people’s needs. In foreign policy, you are absolutely peace-loving state. You are doing a lot to make the world a calmer place. You are against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, wars and conflicts. You advocate the development of the United Nations, and here our positions coincide,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian head of state praised the great successes of the President of Sri Lanka on the way towards the prosperity and stabilization of the situation in the state. “After many years of conflict in Sri Lanka you have given your people not just hope but the guarantee of peace and peaceful life. Thus you have drawn the attention of the leaders of various states to your country,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, for his part, said that Sri Lanka would like to strengthen friendly ties with Belarus. He emphasized that it is important that Belarus is a peaceful country, because peace is a great foundation for the country’s further development

At the one-on-one meeting the two heads of state discussed a wide range of issues on the bilateral agenda and confirmed mutual eagerness to advance Belarus-Sri Lanka cooperation to a brand-new level.

The extended meeting between the presidents and representatives of delegations also focused on ways to expand bilateral cooperation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the importance of advancing trade and economic relations. In his opinion, the existing trade turnover of about $50 million fails to reflect the capacities of the two countries. “We are resolute to build it up and advance it to a more serious level,” the Belarusian head of state emphasized.

“The main thing for us today is to develop the economic basis for our cooperation, and to develop our trade and economic relations,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the importance of the Belarusian-Sri Lankan business forum in Minsk. The Belarusian head of state expressed confidence that the visit of the President of Sri Lanka would help the parties decide on a number of concrete cooperation areas in order to develop trade and economic relations. Mahinda Rajapaksa invited Belarusian businessmen to visit Sri Lanka in November.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remaked that in trade relations Belarus is ready to use modern instruments such as leasing, export lending and insurance. Belarus would like to see Belarusian engineering products included in the government programs in Sri Lanka.

The President of Belarus proposed to implement a number of large bilateral projects with Sri Lanka. “We would like to trade from Sri Lanka with Indonesia, Southeast Asia and particularly India, especially considering the fact that Sri Lanka has a very advantageous tax regime in trade with these states,” the Belarusian President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko invites Sri Lanka to set up joint ventures and increase deliveries of Belarusian equipment.

"We are ready to set up joint ventures on your land, and such proposals have already been worked out by specialists of the two countries. I think many of these projects can be launched soon,” the Belarusian head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus would like the Sri Lankan business to invest in Belarus. The opportunities for business cooperation are great especially considering the fact that Belarus is party to the Customs Union.

According to the President of Belarus, the two countries have a great potential to develop relations in education, the military technical area, science, culture, sports. The Belarusian head of state stressed that Belarus would continue providing assistance to Sri Lankan in training specialists in various areas.

Another promising industry for developing relations is tourism. “We know that Sri Lanka is very serious about the development of the tourism industry. We have discussed the establishment of direct flights from Belarus to Sri Lanka for the sake of transporting tourists,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“Belarus highly appreciates the friendly relations with Sri Lanka. Our dialogue is based on trust and mutual respect. The fact enables mutual understanding about a large number of things,” the Belarusian President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that Belarusian-Sri Lankan relations have gained clear positive dynamics recently.

“During today’s talks we confirmed the mutual intention to advance Belarusian-Sri Lankan cooperation to the highest level. To achieve that, it is necessary to establish direct contacts between legislative bodies of the two countries, to step up the interparliamentary dialogue, not only at the bilateral level but also within the framework of international organizations,” the Belarusian head of state believes.

The Belarus President assured his Sri Lankan counterpart that the Belarusian side will do its utmost to implement the arrangements made during the talks. “There are absolutely no closed topics in our cooperation. We will advance relations across the board. Today we are opening a new page in our relations. The Belarusian side is committed to go forward,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasized the importance of the ongoing visit, because it is the first one in the history of the bilateral relations. This visit confirms the interest of the two states in strengthening mutually beneficial contacts.

“I have come to Minsk as a friend of your country and I want to reaffirm Sri Lanka’s strong determination to promote all-round cooperation with Belarus,” Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

He also invited Aleksandr Lukashenko to visit Sri Lanka.

After the talks Belarus and Sri Lanka signed eight international documents designed to promote all-round cooperation.

They include an intergovernmental agreement on trade and economic cooperation; an intergovernmental agreement on visa-free travels for holders of diplomatic and service passports; an intergovernmental double taxation agreement and an agreement to prevent tax evasion; a cooperation agreement in the defense sector and an agreement to promote tourism.

The two countries also signed an agreement in mutual legal assistance in criminal cases and a memorandum of understanding between the justice ministries of the two countries.

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed confidence that the documents signed by the two countries would lay the foundation for the development of the legal framework in the bilateral relations.

Presidents of Belarus and Sri lanka also signed a joint statement, in which they reaffirmed their commitment to expanding mutually beneficial cooperation.

In the statement the sides expressed satisfaction with the productive nature of the political dialogue at the high and top levels. The parties agreed to cooperate actively in international organizations and act jointly against the attempts to use the UN as an instrument of political pressure.

The two heads of state expressed readiness to boost mutual trade, expand cooperation in engineering technologies and machine-building, agriculture and food industry, construction, petrochemistry, open joint ventures.

The presidents pointed out the importance of Sri Lanka as a logistics center of sea transportation, emphasized the potential of this county in facilitating trade and economic cooperation of Belarus with South and Southeast Asia.

Apart from that, Belarus and Sri Lanka confirmed the necessity to establish a joint commission on trade and economic cooperation which will foster Belarus-Sri Lanka trade and economic ties.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to continue to exchange visits and stressed the positive contribution at the highest and high level to the development of international relations.