Meeting with Novosibirsk Oblast Governor Andrei Travnikov

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Novosibirsk Oblast is one of Belarus’ most promising economic partners in Siberia, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Novosibirsk Oblast Governor Andrei Travnikov on 24 January.

The head of state emphasized that the bilateral relations are based on long-standing contacts between people, as well as a high level of fruitful cooperation. Novosibirsk Oblast is home to over 5,000 Belarusians, many of them are descendants of those who explored Siberia a long time ago. “Belarusian entrepreneurs run successful businesses in the region. You regularly host fairs of Belarusian products. Our foodstuffs, footwear, textiles, furniture sell very well there,” the President noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added that Novosibirsk is known as Russia’s research hub. In recent years it has turned into one of key equipment suppliers for the Belarusian nuclear power plant. “Cooperation on the NPP construction project is mutually beneficial. This project helped forge new contacts in technology between companies from Belarus and your region,” the Belarusian leader noted. “More than that, we are grateful to Russians, first of all, for teaching us to build such facilities. I think that our construction workers and specialists in various areas of expertise will be useful to you around the world. Russians speak highly of the work of our specialists involved in the NPP construction project,” the Belarusian leader said.  

The President sees great cooperation prospects in science. Collaboration between the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences will be analyzed in the near future.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the parties could set up joint ventures, share time-tested technology and roll out products that will sell well not only in Belarus and Russia, but also in the markets of third countries. Belarus is well positioned to meet the needs of Novosibirsk Oblast in modern trucks, passenger vehicles, farm machines, municipal machinery and road construction machines, as well as light industry products and foodstuffs.

Speaking about other promising cooperation avenues, the President mentioned the joint venture BKM-Siberia set up in cooperation with Belkommunmash. The company specializes in upgrading trams; however it could as well assemble trolleybuses.

“There are some cooperation prospects in the aviation sector. You know that we are redeploying the aircraft repair plant outside Minsk. We are ready to expand it, if you are also interested in it, in order to carry out technical maintenance and repair of modern types of aircraft,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Belarus is ready to help implement the Novosibirsk Oblast agriculture development program, like it did even in Sakhalin. Belarus suggests using its design projects to build agro-towns and social infrastructure in rural communities. “There is no other way for Russia to develop its agriculture. You know very well that many regions in Russia that used to produce cereal crops are neglected. The same could have happened here had we not tackled this issue,” the President noted.

The head of state noted that the construction of the Eastern Bypass of Novosibirsk and Southwestern Transit is underway in the region. “We are ready to join these projects if you can benefit from that. Apart from that, you are building ice arenas for the junior ice hockey championships. If you need our expertise and knowledge, you are welcome to study our facilities,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Apart from that, Mogilevliftmash equipment could be used in construction and repair of residential housing in the region.

“In other words, we are open not only for a dialogue, but also for cooperation. We are ready to negotiate concrete agreements if Siberians want it. Belarus has always been your home. We are fully determined to cooperate with our sister nation. However, as I say, this cooperation should be fair. We will always be responsive to you. If you need to promote your goods in the west, come and work here, as if it were your land. We will always help you,” the Belarusian leader assured.

“Remember, we are destined to be together. This will be a long way should we cut off our ties. But we will be together in the end anyway. The same is about Ukraine. We are Slavonic peoples, and we should stick together. And we will. We are not welcome anywhere else. Our entire history proves that,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state said that sometimes they say that Russia widely supports or even feeds Belarus. He recalled, however, that since the Soviet Union times, Belarus has played the role of an assembly plant by purchasing raw materials and component parts from Russia. “By supporting Belarus, Russia primarily supports itself. Having defined Belarus’ course of development more than 20 years ago, we unequivocally decided that Russia is not just a partner or a friendly state for us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.  

“We purchase the bulk of raw materials and component parts from Russia,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that Belarus is not only about a well-known tractor brand but also well-developed petrochemical, oil refining and machine-building industries. “This is the finishing manufacturing site for Russia’s huge economy. If Russia supports Belarus, it supports its producers of raw materials and component parts,” the President said.

He cited MTZ as an example. Its products consist of almost 60% of Russian component parts. Another example is BelAZ that was set up to meet the needs of Russia and the Soviet Union market.

“If we calculate, we will see who supports whom,” the Belarusian leader added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also took note of the recent statements that Russia has taken a pragmatic position and that the brotherhood and friendship rhetoric gives way to purely partner relations. “We can be simply partners. I am not against it. We are ready for cooperation with our brotherly Russia to the extent Russia is ready for today. We are against fake news. Not long ago I had to respond to the recent allegations that Russians are treated badly in Minsk,” the head of state said.   

He explained that when they looked into the situation, it turned out that there was a conflict between two Belarusians. “This incident, however, was spun by the Russian mass media outlets and interpreted in the wrong way. That person was not a Russian citizen at all. This means that there is a demand for such topics today. Your arrival shows, however, that common sense will always prevail, and it will not be possible to pit Russians against Belarusians. They will never succeed in it, at least as long as I am President,” the Belarusian leader said.