Meeting with Russia’s Vnesheconombank Chairman Sergei Gorkov

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Vnesheconombank will be provided with every necessary support in Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Chairman of the Russian state corporation "Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs” (Vnesheconombank) Sergei Gorkov on 8 December.

“I would like to assure you that you can always rely on the support of the president, the government, and the National Bank. I hope you will work with us and our companies, natural persons and legal entities the same way you do in Russia,” the head of state said.

The President thanked the bank for the support it provided to Belarus in the most difficult times. “You have always maintained cooperation with Belarus. You provide millions of US dollars in loans to our biggest companies. I appreciate your decision to support us in difficult times. This proves that you have come to Belarus to stay,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the situation in the Belarusian economy depends heavily on the state of affairs in Russia.

Speaking about the Belarusian banking system, the president said that maybe it differs from the Russian one a little, but only on the surface level. “I have put the Chairman of the Board of the National Bank in charge of the whole banking system. By the way, our banking system is well-manageable. Personnel decisions are coordinated with the National Bank and the President. I will never allow any dishonorable attitude in the sector,” the head of state stressed.

In his words, there are certain criteria for bank assessment. The Belarusian banking system is open to new banking organizations. “We do not create barriers. We have abandoned the idea to have only state-run or Belarusian banks. If we conclude an agreement, which is in our interests, we will support other banks as we support Belarusian banks, not matter whether they are state-run or private,” the President said.

“If banks, including VEB, meet these criteria, then they are welcome. You will always have my support if needed. But you may not need this support. We do not have any infighting,” the Belarusian leader stressed. “You can be confident that your enterprise is safe in Belarus, whatever relations we have with Russia at the moment.”

“Once an agreement is reached, everything must be done exactly as we agreed upon. Otherwise, no investment and no capital will come here,” the head of stat assured.

“The most important thing is to have order here, to fulfill the agreements. The relationship must rely on fair and binding agreements,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Despite the good relations with Russia, it is still another state. Major Russian firms operated here, and they were always protected even from the things they faced at home. Those who did not heed to my advice (I can name three such firms out of hand – Uralkali and others), had to leave. There are other people today. Those who took our advice into account got our protection. No one will make us kowtow: either Russia or the US. The agreements must be ironclad. They must be observed,” the president said.

“We have been cooperating for some nine years already. Joint investments are over a billion. We have such large-scale projects as the nuclear power plant, and we have interesting ideas on how to boost Belarus and Russia’s joint exports. We have agreed with the government to conclude an agreement on this matter today. There are many opportunities for strengthening our cooperation,” Sergei Gorkov said.

He also thanked the Belarusian side for the support provided to the bank. “We always manage to find common ground,” the VEB Chairman stressed.

The parties discussed the plans to establish an integration development platform that will promote stronger mutual trade between Belarus and Russia. Mutual interest was voiced to expand cooperation in a number of promising areas such as investment cooperation, advancement of exports to third countries and support of joint innovative projects.

It was also noted that a high-quality level of cooperation between Belarusian partners and Vnesheconombank is a vivid example of real integration. This experience can be used in building up efficient and mutually beneficial cooperation in other areas.