Meeting with heads of Belarusian diplomatic missionsand consular institutions
In the new geopolitical environment one needs to be strong – both politically and especially economically, the Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement at a meeting with heads of Belarusian diplomatic missions and consular institutions on 17 July.
“We are witnessing sweeping changes in the global setting. We have faced absolutely new geopolitical conditions. Stability was shattered not only somewhere far away, like in North Africa or the Middle East, but also very close from us. We have realized that the situation can explode anywhere,” the head of state said.
“We are witnessing the devaluation of standards and principles of international conduct, destruction of the international law system that had been shaping over decades. One thing is clear: they strike the weak and reckon with the strong. Therefore, we need to be strong – politically and in particular economically,” the President emphasized.
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that Belarus is working on it, domestically and internationally. This is the objective of the President’s tasks to boost export, upgrade the economy and improve living standards. “This was the reason why we chose to strengthen the UnionState, establish the Eurasian Economic Union and build up strategic relations with the People's Republic of China. It also explains our readiness to promote cooperation with the West across the entire spectrum of promising cooperation avenues. However this cooperation should be necessarily based on mutual respect and should be free from sanctions and dictate,” the head of state said.
The President drew attention to the fact that over the past two decades the country increased its foreign trade. Belarus’ foreign trade made up slightly more than $10 billion in 1995, but in 2013 the figure exceeded $80 billion. Over the same period the export soared nearly eight times, by more than $32 billion. Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarusian should not be complacent with it, because the country often has a trade deficit.
“We believe that our efforts to promote international cooperation and our strategy and tactics of the foreign policy should be based on our domestic priorities. The ultimate goal is to improve the living standards of people, consolidate Belarus’ positions on the international arena and strengthen the sovereignty of the state,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus should use the current global trends in the most pragmatic way possible. “The events in Ukraine that put the world on the brink of a new cold war have shown that the existing system of international security, unfortunately, does not work. At the same time, the completion of the active stage of the global financial and economic crisis traditionally coincided with the redistribution of spheres of influence,” the head of state noted.
“This new situation suddenly turned the eyes of the global superpowers on our region. We need to thoroughly analyze this situation and use it in the most pragmatic way possible to promote our national interests, protect the integrity and sovereignty of our state,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to the head of state, the attempts of the global powers to use coercion, pressure, economic and resource advantages give rise to new sources of tension. “In order to promote their interests, they use double standards, impose their own development model and sometimes act in a blatantly cynical way. All this adds to the global uncertainty and creates a complicated system of pros and cons for countries, like Belarus, making us look for unconventional solutions in order to fit into the existing geopolitical system,” the President remarked said.
“In anticipation of 2015 pressure on our country will predictably rise. The presidential election campaign is an exceptionally important political event for any state,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “The time will primarily determine the future strategic policy, key avenues of the country’s development in the future. Therefore, actions and responses of the West will be predictable to a large extent,” he added.
“I have said more than once that Belarusian election campaigns are not arranged for the sake of Washington and Brussels or the Kremlin but for our own country in strict compliance with the national legislation. We should not debase ourselves and try to curry favor with anyone in order to receive a benevolent attitude,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
The President warned that it is necessary to be prepared for the confrontation with global players in matters regarding the policy Belarus pursues. “The so-called gentle force will be used in full along the entire perimeter of our borders. Nobody will roll tanks into the country but the pressure will be raised by many times,” he said.
“The traditional criticism of alleged violations of human rights will be mixed with complaints about the state’s disaffection with various minorities. The barefaced pressure on moral pillars of the society is going to rise. Traditional values including family values will be turned upside down. Then, not everyone is happy with our choice in favor of Eurasian integration,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.
The President urged diplomats to look for promising partners in all the regions of the world and establish the same kind of cooperation with them as Belarus had with Venezuela in Latin America. Belarus has an open and export-oriented economy; therefore, its foreign economic component is of tremendous importance.
According to the head of state, today’s foreign policy of Belarus should be the embodiment of the formula “diplomacy is the art of the possible”. “However, this does not mean that we can stay complacent or idle away time under the excuse of the unfavorable external environment. We need to set most ambitious goals in all the areas. Only in this case we can expect some acceptable results,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.
The President cited a few big projects as examples. One of them is the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. “The scale of the project, which is not universally approved of, is unparalleled. We face pressure within the framework of bilateral relations and international organizations. They claim we have failed to get the final approvals and that our nuclear power plant is not safe. Enough! We have received the final approvals and the power plant is safe!” the Belarusian leader underlined.
“The Foreign Ministry, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, and other agencies concerned should organize their work in a way to defuse these far-fetched complaints,” the President said.
The head of state also said that personnel modernization is necessary alongside the modernization of the manufacturing base of Belarusian enterprises. “I am sick and tired of hearing about the shortage of qualified specialists in the foreign trade and marketing divisions of state-run enterprises,” he said.
“It may be a good idea to adopt a list of positions, primarily those in external communications divisions of the enterprises with a state share, that can be occupied only by people, who can talk to potential clients from abroad without a dictionary,” the President said.
According to the President, there is a need to optimize the distribution network of Belarusian enterprises abroad. "I instruct the government and the Foreign Ministry to inspect our dealerships, representatives, the entire dealer network, especially in Russia and other large economies, and see how they work," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“The Foreign Ministry should and can suggest where to find potential partners, help arrange talks. But it is the manufacturer who determines the geography and strategy of sales and concludes contracts. Everyone must do their work thoroughly,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that it is necessary to improve the work of Belarusian diplomatic missions. "Now we have embassies in 56 countries. We are planning to establish a few more, which have not yet opened due to some reasons. But we need to assume that the opportunities are not unlimited, and that the process of expansion is, in fact, nearing completion," the President said.
In addition, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the Foreign Ministry should be flexible and mobile, particularly in the redeployment of existing personnel and financial resources. “The rapidly changing international environment requires us to. And you, as diplomats, should be the first who explore the new vectors of development. If it becomes clear that for some reason, whether it be some military action, political situation or something else, the bilateral economic relations with a country do not get enough traction or will deteriorate or become non-existent, you need to make proposals for adjustment of the network of diplomatic missions," the Belarusian leader said.
The head of state reminded that billions of financial resources are now put into modernization. "And not only our own money but also borrowed funds. The accountability for this will double. You need to have a clear idea of what will happen when we deploy all this advanced equipment, where there are markets for the new products,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that not only manufacturers but also diplomats should take an active part in the promotion of Belarusian products to foreign markets.
Speaking about foreign direct investments, Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the Economy Ministry to raise the efficiency of the National Agency for Investment and Privatization and added that it should be turned into a one-stop shop for foreign investors.
The President noted that there are successful examples of such cooperation. In particular, the President drew attention to the cooperation with the Swiss company Stadler Rail Group. “This is the example to be guided by. When we have 15-20 examples of such cooperation as with Stadler then we can say that we have worked effectively to attract investment,” the head of state remarked.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus should get maximum benefits from the acceleration of integration processes on the post-Soviet space. “We will have to live in the Eurasian Economic Union for the next decades. Therefore, we should do our best to make a quality breakthrough on the markets of Russia and Kazakhstan,” the President remarked. Aleksandr Lukashenko deems it necessary to use the tools which exist in the Eurasian Economic Union to protect Belarus’ national interests.
“The treaty on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union that we have signed is not quite what we expected. But it is a step forward. It is a progress despite we expected more. As of today, we do not have losses; we have not made a wrong decision. It is the move in the right direction. We are expected there and we cannot deny it on any account,” the Belarusian head of state said.
Speaking about foreign policy cooperation, the President stressed that Belarus will continue strengthening strategic partnership with Russia and is eager to work actively on the Ukrainian market. The head of state expects substantial progress in the promotion of Belarusian economic interests on the markets of the Middle East and active penetration of new markets in Africa. It is also essential to use new mechanisms to branch out into the markets of Latin America. The Belarusian side is interested in the revival of large-scale cooperation with Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya as soon as the situation becomes stable there. As for the relations with the People’s Republic of China, Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Belarus should switch from loans to investments. It is also necessary to consolidate the changes in cooperation with European countries that have emerged in the last two years.
The President urged Belarusian manufactures to avoid stereotyped approaches as they advance to new markets.
“The government, state administration bodies, the Foreign Ministry, diplomatic missions have a common task to restore positions on traditional markets as soon as possible, to increase the supplies of our products to new promising trading platforms and to ensure that foreign trade targets are hit by the end of the year. This is the requirement of the time. Therefore, they will bear personal responsibility,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
The President pointed out the Belarus has a strong diplomatic mission.
“The scale of responsibility and peculiarities of the tasks that the Foreign Ministry has to handle present special requirements for diplomatic personnel. The Foreign Ministry is no place for inept people, slackness and corruption,” the head of state said.