Meeting with Governor of Russia’s Rostov Oblast Vasily Golubev
There are good prospects for advancing trade and economic cooperation. This statement was made at the meeting of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko with Governor of Russia’s Rostov Oblast Vasily Golubev on 11 May.
“If we act in a persistent and systematic way, we will reach a desirable $0.5 billion level of bilateral trade,” the head of state said. “We must agree on certain issues, and the today’s meeting will be a new starting point in our relations.”
The meeting focused on the prospects of cooperation in various fields. Given that Rostov Oblast is one of the largest agricultural regions in Russia, Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested deepening cooperation in the agrarian sector where Belarus has accumulated big practical experience.
According to the President, it is symbolic that the Rostov Oblast delegation visited Belarus immediately after Victory Day. He emphasized that both Belarus and Russia cherish this holiday. “This is a very emotional holiday for Belarus because the country lost one third of its population in those terrible years and was devastated by the war,” the Belarusian leader noted.
It is possible to deliver corresponding goods and products to Rostov Oblast. Belarus can offer MAZ buses to help Rostov-on-Don get ready for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Taking into account the industrial and innovative potential of Belarus and Rostov Oblast, it is needed to mull over the possibilities to enhance existing production cooperation ties. There are good prospects for cooperation in the construction industry, including road construction.
“You are aware of our opportunities. You are not alien people to us,” the President assured.
Belarusian and Russian enterprises should not compete with each other but act like partners on the market, Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced. “If we produce harvesters in Gomel, and Russia has the Rostselmash producer, we need to agree as partners. This is our common market. There is no need to squeeze each other out. If Rostselmash sees no possibility of reaching an agreement, then what can we do... We will have to compete not only in our markets but also in foreign markets too,” the President said.
“Let’s take MAZ and KaMAZ for example. The Belarusian producer is struggling, the Russian producer has its problems too. This is where this competition has led us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.
“This is why we are in favor of partner-like behavior. We can reach an agreement, and we are ready for this,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
As was noted during the meeting, the relevant agencies of Belarus and Russia agreed to submit, a joint program of cooperation between Gomselmash and Rostselmash in about a month. “We should move in this direction. Why compete with each other? The market is huge. We must keep the foothold we already have,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Speaking about the interaction of Belarusian and Russian enterprises, the President said that Belarus is ready to discuss the resumption of cooperation with Russian partners in potash industry. Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that back in the day this cooperation fell apart due to no fault of the Belarusian side and proposals to resume this cooperation had been submitted since. “Let’s do it. I have no objections,” the head of state said. “Just don’t set the terms we cannot accept.”
“We are ready for everything. Ready for competition and for doing business the humane way, [for doing business] not even as partners but as brothers. We are capable of striking a deal. But only on sincere, honest, and principled terms. It is very important,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also explained his harsh reaction to the issues regarding the supplies of Belarusian foodstuffs to Russia. “It had nothing to do with emotions. The reason was because the dispute cost us a lot. If there is a common market, we should not put obstacles to each other,” the President said.
According to the head of state, Belarus delivers many agricultural products and foodstuffs to Russia, maintains direct ties with retail networks. “Problems emerge sometimes. In general, they are created artificially. Because when I met with the Russian President we agreed to look at this issue from the angle of Alexander Surikov (Russian ambassador to Belarus). And he is right. If we want to overcome certain issues we must monitor everything that is moving across the border. As soon as we began to monitor this situation, it changed. The issue just disappeared. I hope it disappeared for good,” the Belarusian leader remarked.
“We do not have fights yet. Certain experts from Russia, including those from Dankvert’s agency, have come to us. They have inspected our enterprises,” the head of state said.
The President also mentioned the very high level of Belarusian food processing enterprises. “When the situation was difficult here, when we had to give people food stamps, we would save 2 or 3 rubles to modernize these enterprises in the future. We worked hard to accomplish this goal. And when some people reproach us (for certain reasons) that our products are not good enough, this is too much for us,” he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko added that Belarus is the only country in the post-Soviet space that has kept the state quality standards and even made them more stringent. “Today our enterprises and farms sell only high-quality products, as they operate good quality management systems, and the products that does not meet standards do not get to the market,” the head of state assured.