Meeting with Governor of Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast Anton Alikhanov

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Belarus is interested in closer cooperation with Russian machine-building companies, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Governor of Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast Anton Alikhanov on 25 November.

It is noteworthy that Aleksandr Lukashenko met with the delegation of the Russian region immediately after the talks with the representatives of the west – the ministers of foreign affairs of Sweden and Finland. The President said that Belarus is also ready to launch projects in various fields with these countries.

Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned some of the results of the talks at the meeting with Anton Alikhanov. One of the issues was gender equality. Welcoming the delegation of Kaliningrad Oblast, the President noticed that women account for a half of the delegation of the Russian region. “Everything is okay with gender equality in your region, isn’t it? I met with the representatives of the west, and they touched upon the issue of gender equality. I told them to come and learn,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. In his words, women account for about 70% of all civil servants in Belarus, and 40% of MPs in the new parliament.

“The main thing is that they are less corrupt. They never take on risky projects, never take bribes,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Kaliningrad Oblast is more than just an important and promising trade and economic partner of Belarus. “This region is very close from the geographical and historical points of view,” the head of state said. In his words, Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast are interested in mutually beneficial and productive cooperation.

“I often told [Boris] Yeltsin and [Vladimir] Putin when we discussed certain issues that Kaliningrad Oblast was our region, and that we had always been responsible for it even more than Russia. Putin said he’s not against. There is a historical background. In Soviet times there were many top-level discussions of the possibility to attach Kaliningrad Oblast to Belarus. It didn’t matter back then. Maybe, it is good that we didn’t do that because Crimea was attached to Ukraine and it turned out that the move was wrong. Nevertheless, there were such conversations, in fact, Belarus was responsible for Kaliningrad Oblast in many aspects because we were very close,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The delegation of Kaliningrad Oblast visited Belarus two years ago. According to the head of state, his previous meeting with Anton Alikhanov gave a new impetus to cooperation. “I hope that this visit will help you learn more about Belarus and its potential. I also hope that the forthcoming negotiations in the government and the session of the Belarusian-Russian council for long-term cooperation will help expand our bilateral ties,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast have a big potential for growth. As examples, he mentioned the launch of an oil extraction plant in Smorgon by the Russian company Sodruzhestvo and the participation of the Osipovichi plant of car parts and units in the localization program at the Kaliningrad-based enterprise Avtodor Holding.

“We hope for closer cooperation between Belarusian and Russian machine-building companies. And we have enough experience in this field,” the President stressed and added that Minsk buses are successfully used in Kaliningrad Oblast. According to the head of state, the region can also purchase electric buses of Belkommunmash. He also suggested organizing a joint assembly of these vehicles in Kaliningrad Oblast.

The construction industry has always been one of traditional cooperation avenue for Belarus and Russia. A joint to build a stadium in Kaliningrad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is an example of productive cooperation. “Residents and guests of Kaliningrad praised the professionalism of Belarusian specialists and the quality of modern construction materials,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

A sea port, a potash company, a museum complex, a multi-purpose tourism and recreation facility are currently being built in Kaliningrad Oblast. The President said that Belarus is ready to take part in these projects, for example, to provide freight, road-building, municipal and construction equipment.

It was mentioned at the meeting that the agricultural industry is vigorously developing in Kaliningrad Oblast. Belarus has experience and technologies in animal husbandry, grain and vegetable production, construction of dairy and grain drying complexes. Belarus is ready to work with Kaliningrad Oblast in these areas and to increase the export of high-quality foodstuffs to the region.

At the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled his first visit to Kaliningrad in October 1999. “We have done a lot over two decades. Last year the trade turnover reached a record high of $360 million. We need even more ambitious goals now, first of all, in industrial cooperation,” the head of state believes.

In his words, Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast are interested in it. Besides, certain projects will help expand bilateral cooperation. “We always promptly and efficiently fulfill our agreements. We are prepared to discuss all issues and make necessary decisions today,” the President added.

Anton Alikhanov agreed with Aleksandr Lukashenko that the cooperation of Belarus and Kaliningrad Oblast has a strong historical foundation. “Brest is a twin city of Kaliningrad. Therefore, the two cities maintain very close contacts,” he said.

“We almost doubled our trade turnover last year. There was a small reduction in January-September 2019. We need to analyze the data and determine bottlenecks. Probably, these can be just miscalculations. Our objective is to raise the trade turnover,” the Kaliningrad Oblast governor said.