Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Kaluga Oblast Governor Anatoly Artamonov

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Belarus invites Kaluga Oblast to implement promising projects across all areas of cooperation, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Kaluga Oblast Governor Anatoly Artamonov on 4 April.

The head of state remarked that Belarus is always glad to welcome delegations from Russian regions.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Kaluga Oblast is a long-standing and reliable partner of Belarus. They have been maintaining partner relations for many years already. This cooperation has a solid historical, economic and humanitarian foundation. The mutual trade has been on the rise in recent years. It approached $570 million in 2013, up nearly 36% compared to 2012. Belarus’ major exports to Kaluga Oblast include foodstuffs, furniture, building materials, farm machines, trucks, metal products, trolleybuses. Kaluga Oblast purchased 33 Belkommunmash trolleybuses in 2013. Belarusian farm machines have also proved their reliability and efficiency.

According to the head of state, joint projects will help Belarus and Kaluga Oblast make the most of their manufacturing, technological and intellectual potential.

The President noted that the parties are already actively cooperating in the construction industry. Belarusian development companies are building residential housing in Kaluga Oblast; in some cases they use Belarusian technologies and materials. “I believe we need to advance to a new level of cooperation and start designing and building infrastructure facilities,” the Belarusian leader believes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that Kaluga Oblast and Belarus have well-developed manufacturing industries. In his words, this factor prompts the partners to consider manufacturing cooperation, including the establishment of joint ventures in Belarus and in Kaluga Oblast.

Speaking about cooperation prospects in agriculture, the President emphasized that there are great opportunities to intensify cooperation. Aleksandr Lukashenko informed that Belarus is ready to share its expertise and knowledge with Kaluga Oblast.

The President also mentioned Belarus’ water treatment solutions and the government program Clean Water that has been running in the country for about 12 years already. The head of state suggested that Kaluga Oblast take advantage of Belarus’ expertise and knowledge in this field.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the parties have great cooperation prospects in science and technology. “Belarusian scientists would like to run joint projects with research centers and educational institutions of Kaluga Oblast, including projects in nuclear energy, space, medicine, information technologies and energy efficiency,” the President said.

“I will enumerate a few cooperation avenues. It is very important due to the recent events happening around Russia and Belarus,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

The President remarked that too many speculations and wild guesses have been voiced recently. “It has been said that Lukashenko allegedly tries to exploit the problems Russia is facing. Only an idiot would pass up on any opportunities that open up. But remember this: whatever I may be doing now as I talk to Ukraine, the West, the East and so on, I don’t make a single step without consulting with the Russian Federation leadership if Russian interests are at stake,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“Therefore, I can give a clear answer: if Russia wants us to represent its interests in Ukraine, we will do it. If Russia wants us to go into far off lands and benefit Russia, we will do it,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that, first, it will be done for the sake of the brotherly Russian nation and, second, for the sake of Belarusian interests if the two things are not contradictory. “Therefore, all kinds of speculations and wild guesses must be ruled out,” the President added.

“Sanctions and the rest are total nonsense and rubbish. Nothing but idle talk. The West is not capable of accomplishing anything these days. We should bear it in mind,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He remarked that Belarus knows what sanctions are all about because the country has lived with sanctions for two decades already. The President went on saying that anyone can understand what Russia is and what the sanctions can evolve into.

According to the Belarus President, the sanctions will help “us focus on domestic problems. They will make us unshakable. It is what the sanctions lead to”. He continued: “Sanctions unite the entire nation around the problems that exist in the country. And you know the nature of Russian people: the more pressure you put on them, the larger the effect will be for the people”.

“So let’s work now in a manner so as to avoid getting reproached later for failing to grab the opportunity,” the President said.

The Kaluga Oblast Governor praised Belarusian products and specialists. He confirmed that Kaluga Oblast is interested in promoting cooperation with Belarus in the manufacturing industry, agriculture, construction, science, culture and education. “The reason is clear – this cooperation will benefit the both parties,” Anatoly Artamonov said.

He noted that Kaluga Oblast can be a springboard for expanding Belarus’ presence in the neighboring markets.