Meeting with President of Russia’s Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov

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Belarus and Tatarstan should look for new opportunities to develop cooperation, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with President of Russia’s Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov on 12 December.

The head of state remarked that Tatarstan is a crucial partner for Belarus in Volga Federal District of the Russian Federation. The bilateral trade was close to $1.3 billion in 2018. “In order to keep and multiply this impressive result, we need to look for new growth points. The enhancement of cooperation in innovation and investment seems to be the main vector of interaction in this dimension,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

In his words, an important cooperation project to make gas engine equipment by MAZ, MTZ, Amkodor, BelAZ in close cooperation with Tatarstan’s holding company Raritek relies on the principles of applying cutting-edge technologies and innovations. Almost 200 gas-fueled buses were assembled in the past two years. The same amount of similar vehicles will be made in 2020.

Another project envisages the manufacture of four- and six-cylinder gas engines for MTZ tractors and Amkodor vehicles jointly with Minsk Motor Plant. Plans have been made to launch the production of gas-fueled BelAZ dump trucks.

“These examples demonstrate that we have chosen a path of partnership, not a path of competition. Efficient cooperation is developing. We create new jobs, offer equal opportunities to enterprises of Belarus and Tatarstan. The use of this experience in other Russian regions would guarantee bigger efficiency of the economic dialogue,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

The head of state also remarked that Belarus can offer a lot in nano- and biotechnology; the Hi-Tech Park is one of the biggest software-making clusters in Central and Eastern Europe. “We are prepared to maintain close cooperation in this field with Kazan’s IT park and other R&D centers of Tatarstan,” he said.

The sides prioritize cooperation in oil chemistry, which accounts for a half of the trade turnover. “It is good that you’ve come to visit us today. Belarus and Russia are currently mulling over the prospects of cooperation in the oil industry. I think that the today’s conversation (we are discussing it, too) will be very important not only from the information perspective but also in the context of work in this sector,” the Belarusian leader remarked.

There are good prospects for expanding cooperation in ecological security. In 2019, Russia included an issue of global importance regarding waste processing and recyclable materials in the agenda, the Belarusian head of state said. “We are ready to cooperate with you in this field, for example, in the turn-key construction of waste processing plants. We have a similar plant in Brest,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that Belarus and Tatarstan can benefit from joint regional projects, contacts between healthcare and educational institutions, youth organizations.

The president also thanked the Tatarstani side for a warm welcome to the Belarusian team in Kazan during the professional contest WorldSkills 2019. Belarusian entries were a success in various categories there.

“The enhancement of cooperation in machine-building, projects in innovation should help increase bilateral trade. I am convinced that our trade can reach $2 billion in the near future. Of course, we want to have more balanced trade with such a strong republic. Although I realize that the volume of oil we purchase upset the balance of our trade. But we still can balance it out if we want. We are ready to consider all proposals of yours and to make corresponding decisions,” the Belarusian leader said.

He also thanked the president of Tatarstan for cooperation in the delivery and sale of Belarusian equipment. “Especially, MAZ. Despite having KamAZ in close vicinity, you like our technical goods and maintain solid ties with our enterprise. You give an opportunity to our factories to work on your market. We appreciate that,” the Belarusian president said.