Speech of President Aleksandr Lukashenko at the solemn gathering dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Belarus’liberation from the Nazi invasion and the Independence Day of the Republic of Belarus (Republic Day)
Today we should be worthy of the historic relay race that we have taken over from the generation of victors. In new conditions we face the same task: protect the freedom and independence of the native land.
We should remember that citizens are the most important foundation of independence. A country is more than several million people who have settled down in a certain area by accident. A country is a unity of citizens. Of people, who are united by common historic memory, by traditions and values. Of people, who are united by their sincere attitude to the land that they have inherited from their forefathers.
There is one key condition that will allow us to keep our independence forever: the idea has to live in hearts and souls of our citizens. Each and every one of us has to be a genuine citizen of our country.
It is easy to say patriotic words about a country, easy to talk about patriotism, but it is much more difficult to reinforce words with deeds.
It is necessary to care for and protect the native land not only in time of war. In time of peace the country needs care and attention of everyone as well.
Patriotism is not only about fighting with weapons in your hands. That is an extreme kind. Patriotism is also about simple routine actions. Such actions reveal the attitude of a person towards his or her Fatherland as vividly as actions during a war.
I will give you a curious example.
Many take pleasure in condemning all things Belarusian. They claim that everything is bad in Belarus, that Belarusian goods are worse than anyone else’s, they don’t want anything Belarus-made but they want imports only.
I am far from praising Belarus-made products just because they are Belarusian. Yet it is hard to find anyone else more critical about the quality of Belarusian products.
But let me ask it another way: who makes Belarusian products? Germans? Chinese? Americans? Maybe Russians? No! You and I, Belarusians, make Belarus-made products.
When we evaluate Belarusian goods, we look into the mirror. It is us who have made Belarusian goods. If a Belarusian product is bad, we are the ones to blame.
Being proud of your country goes beyond being proud of the victories that our forefathers achieved, not us. Beyond being proud of achievements of our athletes at competitions where we are present as spectators and fans.
If you are proud of your country, you should be first of all proud of results of your work.
Diligent work is a moral category. It is what daily patriotism is all about. It may be hard to notice from the outside but it is the most important kind of patriotism that the country needs today.
Let me speak about such a boring matter as tax payment. You will ask what patriotism has to do with it.
The ancient Romans used to say that a citizen is someone who pays taxes, who supports the state, who voluntarily gives up part of their labor for the common good.
Tax payment is an obligation that many want to avoid.
But taxes are not only an economic category, but also a political and moral one. It is a concrete contribution of a citizen to the construction of our common home, Belarus, its peace and security, education, healthcare, comfort and beauty of our towns and villages.
And the desire to evade it by all means is a kind of moral treason. This is dishonesty towards those who live and work honestly. In a sense it is a betrayal of those who many years ago did not spare their lives for the homeland, which is hundred times more valuable than any money.
Personal honesty of every citizen and diligent work in any job make up the foundation of patriotism and a strong economy. Strong economy is a pillar of independence, freedom and prosperity of Belarus.
If there is any threat to the independence of our country, it can be caused by economic problems only.
It has become especially relevant today. We have been told scary stories that armies will come from the East and invade us. In the East they say that hordes will come from the West and destroy us. As President I must bear all this mind. I cannot neglect any possibilities, even the most absurd ones. I have said a lot about labor, taxes, economy. No hordes can destroy our country today. If we want our children and grandchildren to live on their native land, we must do whatever it takes to lay this foundation. No armies, tanks, planes can bring us on our knees. Everything depends on us.
I don’t require much of a true citizen: be a decent person, work diligently and pay taxes honestly.
We should raise this attitude from childhood: in school, in university, and later on as part of a labor collective. It is the formula of patriotism.
We live in the information era, in the century of the Internet and telecommunications. Unfortunately, advanced technologies are often used to the detriment of humanity. More and more often we hear about information warfare and cyber crime.
One person with a computer can sometimes be more dangerous than ten men with guns. One click can inflict more damage than a unit of men armed to the teeth.
Honest information about our country, frank and open dialogue will nullify any attempts to draw Belarus into an information war.
A great illustration of this was the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship which was held in Minsk in May: Our guests saw a modern, beautiful, decent European state. The state where there is no place for anger, hatred and conflicts, where people are not divided by either skin color or language, religion or income.
By our nature, we, Belarusians, are calm peace-loving and tolerant people. But any attempts to coerce and intimidate us are futile, useless and counterproductive, as diplomats say.
We maintain equal relations with the biggest countries. I mean the union with the Russian Federation, strategic partnership with the People’s Republic of China. We promote mutually beneficial economic cooperation with other big and small countries.
Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have recently signed the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty. It took several years to prepare the document.
Starting from 1 January 2015 participants of our markets will enjoy free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce. We agreed to harmonize policies in key branches of the economy, namely the energy sector, manufacturing, agriculture, transport.
Therefore, together we are working to establish the largest economic union with the total population of 170 million on the post-Soviet space.
I am convinced that this union will become a strong center of economic development.
There are many statements that the Eurasian Economic Union is useless for Belarus. The distribution of export duties will benefit Belarus. What did we lose? Nothing. Moreover, Belarus sells about 75-80% of goods abroad. The Belarusian economy is export-oriented. It was like that before and we cannot lose it.
Of course, it can be dangerous when the country has to sell a lot. The global crisis and problems of our partners create difficulties for us. In order to survive and have a normal life we need to be ahead of our rivals. It always prompts the nation to step up modernization, move forward and make progress. We need this economic union. However, the EEU membership is not a solution to all problems. It is also essential to work hard to promote Belarusian products.
Our objective is to diversify the economy and export. We should not rely on conventional markets only. Therefore, we try to branch out into Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela. We penetrate the African market. We work with Syria, Iraq, Iran. The EEU Treaty did no harm to Belarus and will benefit the country in the future.
A truly independent state cannot do without a strong army, and even more so if this army is the successor of the army of the warriors-victors.
We have been strengthening our defense capacity, providing our troops with the most advanced weaponry and equipment. We protect the borders of the UnionState of Belarus and Russia and we do this together with our brothers.
But the security of the state is not only the army. This is the entire law-enforcement: police and border guards, the KGB and other security services. They guard the interests of the state and the Belarusian nation.
Life shows we cannot relax. Armed conflicts are not a myth. Recent events attest to this. Against this background, Belarus is peaceful and stable. There is order and accord in the Belarusian society, unity of the people. This is a unique fact of the contemporary history.
They say that people often do not value what they have.
Peace, concord and security are such values. People often take them for granted.
People begin to treasure peace and concord only when bombs explode, guns fire, nights are illuminated not by street lamps, but by heinous fires, when close people die.
Some people believe that the war ended long ago or takes place far from us.
But the tragedy of Ukraine shows that war is something that can be very close, that war is what happens when peace, stability and harmony are not valued. When society breaks up and falls into revolutionary discord.
The Belarusians have the greatest value – peace and accord in the society. Let us remember this, appreciate and cherish this. This is our great achievement. And if we can mange to keep peace, then we will be worthy of the feat of our ancestors and will be able to pass independent Belarus to our children and grandchildren.
I would like to congratulate you on the memorable date in our heroic history – the 70th anniversary of liberation and the Independence Day of Belarus. I sincerely wish you happiness, kindness, health and labor achievements for the benefit of Belarus.
People who were not fighting at the great war will not realize how severe your fate was.
You were not born heroes. You became heroes when the Motherland needed you.
You did even more than an ordinary person can do.
You are soldiers, underground fighters, partisans who lived on occupied territories, in besieged Leningrad, took part in deadly fights near Moscow, produced ammunition for our soldiers in Siberia. All of you are heroes. You fought for your families, your country and for the entire mankind. You defended lives, freedom and future of people. The mankind must be always grateful to you. That is why we build museums and hold various campaigns to thank you for the Great Victory.
Eternal glory to you and those who died during the war!
We bow to those who made the victory closer! I wish you strong health. We will do our best to preserve peace and concord in the country, protect its Freedom and Independence.
Happy Independence Day!