Official visit to the Republic of Moldova

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Belarus views Moldova as a reliable partner and prioritizes the development of political and economic relations with this country, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with his Moldovan counterpart Nicolae Timofti on 24 September.

On 24 September the Belarusian head of state arrived in Moldova on the official visit. Chisinau hosted one-on-one and extended negotiations between presidents of Belarus and Moldova. The sides discussed a wide range of issues on the bilateral agenda.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that it had been 14 years since the previous official meeting of the two presidents. “However, it doesn’t mean that our relations with Moldova are on the backburner. We unwaveringly believe that Moldova is a reliable partner, a friendly country for us, developing relations with which is a priority for Belarus,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Moldova is an important trade and economic partner for Belarus and ranks fifth in Belarus’ total trade with the CIS states. Since 2000 Belarus-Moldova trade has increased by five times to come close to $360 million in 2013. According to the Belarus President, some headway has been made, it is necessary to move on. During the negotiations in Chisinau on 24 September the presidents focused on the development of the trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Speaking about Belarus-Moldova political relations, Aleksandr Lukashenko was satisfied with the high level of interaction between the two countries in the international scene, including within the framework of the United Nations Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and other universal and regional organizations. He thanked the Moldovan side for supporting Belarus during Eastern Partnership Initiative summits. The Belarusian side also counts on joint work of Belarusian and Moldovan MPs, the development of legislative initiatives meant to encourage manufacturing cooperation, create joint ventures and enterprises.

The Belarusian President believes that the industrial cooperation with Moldova is promising. It will help advance on the markets of the third countries. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that projects to assemble Belarusian agricultural machines and trolleybuses are already being implemented in Moldova. Projects to assemble buses are next in the pipeline. According to the Belarusian leader, the two states need to increase the bilateral trade to $1 billion.

The Belarusian head of state underlined that the Belarusian side was ready to satisfy the demand of Moldovan partners for mechanical engineering and petrochemical products, light industry products, construction materials, household appliances, medications and food. Apart from that, Belarus is interested in implementing projects for the development of the road infrastructure and agriculture of Moldova. “We have things to offer,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the signing of the association agreement with the European Union by Moldova will not affect relations with Belarus.

“Do not dramatize. There is only one problem: a new situation has emerged and new approaches, different actions are needed now. It is necessary to create new forms, seek new ways of cooperation. It is life. It is competition,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the Belarusian side respects Moldova’s decision to sign and ratify the agreement on association with the European Union. “We do not cry about it and do not create any impassable barriers in this regard. It is always necessary to look at concrete things,” the Belarusian head of state said. “Before shouting out loud and crying, we should sit down and clarify who has violated the agreements, how and why. And if we are to arrive at some impassable barriers, consequences of our mutual relations connected directly to the agreement on Moldova’s association with the European Union, we will tell you right away that we cannot do something due to commitments to other countries. The situation has not reached that stage yet,” he added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that at present the Belarusian side finds additional ways of cooperation while negotiating with Moldova taking into account commitments to the Customs Union and Moldova’s orientation towards the European Union.

“I know there will be many questions now regarding how Moldova will fare, these sanctions, the embargo and so on… I think it is not a good idea to blow these things out of proportion. You will just be in a different situation. You may fear that you will have to rework your procedures due to the new situation, the new circumstances,” the Belarusian head of state remarked.

“If you want to trade with the Russian Federation — and I know ways of Russia’s leadership, they do not want any extra problems either — without dramatizing, without shouting or making noise you will always be able to come to terms,” the Belarusian leader is convinced. Avoiding damaging your partners with your actions is the key guideline, he added. “Everything should be done the way humans do. It has always been like that between the Moldovan, Russian and Belarusian nations,” the President stressed.

“We do not need any tensions and more dividing lines in the Eurasian space. We are in favor of integration of integrations, the idea of bringing about common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok in the future. I am convinced that different vectors of integration development of Belarus and Moldova should not prevent the bilateral economic cooperation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The Belarusian side hopes for more active cooperation with Moldova in the CIS. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that he expects the Moldova President to visit Minsk for the regular CIS summit that will take place in October 2014. He also invited Nicolae Timofti to come to Belarus on an official visit for the sake of auditing the fulfillment of the agreements that had been reached.

After the negotiations the sides signed a package of documents to expand bilateral cooperation.

In particular, Aleksandr Lukashenko and Nicolae Timofti signed a joint statement that states the persistent development of Belarusian-Moldovan relations and confirmed that their future enhancement meets interests of the two countries. The sides expressed interest in bolstering manufacturing cooperation, expanding the assembly enterprises that have been set up in Moldova for the sake of satisfying the demand of the Moldovan market and possibly exporting the merchandise to third countries. The presidents were confident that the current visit of the Belarusian leader to Moldova will become another step in the advancement of the political dialogue, trade, economic, and interregional relations, will contribute to further enhancement of friendship and cooperation between the two states.

Apart from that, the chambers of commerce and industry of Belarus and Moldova signed an agreement on cooperation.

Lists of products to be supplied by Belarusian and Moldovan enterprises as part of manufacturing cooperation schemes in 2015 in compliance with the relevant agreement the two industry ministries inked in 1996 were signed.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry and the Moldovan Foreign Affairs and European Integration Ministry signed a plan for cooperation in 2015-2016.

An action plan for economic, scientific, technical, social, and cultural cooperation between the administrations of Minsk and Chisinau in 2015-2016 was signed.

Belarus and Moldova also signed an agreement on the handover of convicts who are sentenced to imprisonment.

“If you desire it, you can rest assured that our promise is strong and we will fulfill everything we have agreed on,” Aleksandr Lukashenko assured.

The Belarusian President was also asked to comment on the situation in Ukraine.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that a lot has been done recently to settle this conflict. According to the Belarusian head of state, the contact group on Ukraine that worked in Minsk has done colossal work. “They stopped the bloodbath, the meat grinder. It is a great accomplishment. Wars cannot be finished in one go. Wars are easy to start, easy to take far, but very hard to pull out of. It has always been like that through the course of history. But a lot has been done already,” the Belarusian leader underlined.

The Belarusian President believes that the pullout from the conflict will be very difficult for Ukraine.

“The pullout from the conflict will be very difficult. The consequences will be catastrophic from the point of view of the psychology of the people, relatives of those killed. But it is a road one has to travel,” said the Belarus President. He stressed: “I believe there will be no war because there can be no winners or losers in that war. No prospects of achieving a victory. Why fight then? And the sides of the conflict understand it,” the Belarusian head of state noted.

“Because nobody needs a war. Wars are waged when someone tries to win but all the sides in the conflict are convinced that they will not be able to secure a victory: neither the Ukrainian army will win nor the resistance army, which exists there and is labeled separatists. Many believe that Russia is fighting the war over there. Russia didn’t fight there. If Russia does, it will not win. The situation will only get worse,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Russia has no desire to wage economic wars against anyone.

“Knowing the psychology, knowing Russia’s leadership very well, I can say that Russia does not want to wage an economic war against anyone, all the more so, in this situation,” the Belarusian leader said.

“If Ukraine, Moldova, and other countries do not harm Russia after signing the agreement on association with the European Union, I am confident that in the near future you will normalize relations with Russia if there is no damage to the Russian economy. Russia is just trying to protect itself in this situation,” the Belarusian head of state remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko went on saying that not only Russia but Belarus, too has certain concerns and Ukraine President Piotr Poroshenko was told so during the latest meeting in Minsk. The Ukraine President was informed about the specific clauses of the agreement on association with the European Union that had raised these concerns. According to the Belarusian leader, Piotr Poroshenko assured that if these concerns evolve into concrete facts, then the Ukrainian side will face the responsibility for it. “It was our decision on that,“ the Belarusian head of state said.

“Therefore, don’t try to harm each other. You will not be able to deceive, dodge, handle the situation somehow, since there are good specialists everywhere — in Moldova, in Russia, in Belarus, and in Ukraine. Everything is calculated,” the Belarusian President noted. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the agreements Belarus and Moldova had reached cannot harm Russia or Kazakhstan. “We are not building our relations against anyone. We are creating them for the benefit of our nations instead of damaging someone,” the Belarusian leader said.

According to the Belarusian President, everything that happened during Maidan events in Ukraine was wrong and unconstitutional. “People on both sides were killed there. It is bad. Everyone, who died or was maimed, has parents and relatives. Someone lost a son or their son was maimed, someone lost a husband, children lost their father… Was it normal? It was not. It is my view and the view of the Belarusian people,” the Belarus President noted.

The Belarusian leader said he believes that the division of residents of one country into western Ukrainians and eastern ones is artificial and is meant to bring people against each other, to find motivations for their points of view.

Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke against being called the peacemaker in the Ukrainian conflict because, in his words, he just does what he has been asked to do. “Belarus happened to be a convenient venue for negotiations. As the host I tried to do something for it but my accomplishments are small,” he said. The Belarus President noted he has certain personal motivations due to his Ukrainian roots. He also cannot stand seeing children cry or, all the more so, die.

“It is the least of our fears that someone will come to Belarus and start a war. It will not happen,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the Belarusian side would do its best to avoid war in Ukraine. “It is not because Belarus or Moldova can face it. Moldova has already drained this bitter cup. The country was divided. It is your pain. Thanks God Belarus did not witness it. We are doing everything to not make this happen. And we will do everything we can to avoid it. I guarantee it to you,” the President of Belarus emphasized.

“I am convinced that we are Slavonic nations and will be able to overcome these difficulties. Any war ends in peace,” the Belarusian leader said.

In the evening Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko attended an official dinner on behalf of Moldova President Nicolae Timofti.

On the second day of the official visit, 25 September, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament Igor Corman, leaders of parliamentary factions and Prime Minister of Moldova Iurie Leanca.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Moldova can make serious progress in the near future. “Your country can be made if not thriving but well-performing in five years' time,” the Belarusian leader said. “It is important that the elections should result in unified consolidation,” the Belarusian head of state added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that he knows Moldova very well, have visited the country many times and always feels comfortable there.

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko and President of Moldova Nicolae Timofti took part in the opening of the commercial center to sell paving tile and sanitary ware produced by the Belarusian company Keramin in Chisinau.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, it is a landmark event which testifies to the development of business cooperation between the two countries. “It is good that one of the oldest companies in Belarus strengthens its positions on the markets of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe every year. Our company is respected by its partners because of the modern style, good design, excellent quality and a wide range of products,” the Belarusian head of state remarked. The Keramin trademark has become the winner of the national contest “Trademark of the Year” in Moldova and received the Gold Mercury Grand Prix for the past ten years in a row.

The Belarusian President believes that the new trade center in Chisinau will help raise the quality of work with customers. In his opinion, it is also good that apart from ceramics the center will offer high-quality goods of other Belarusian companies.

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked the management of Keramin-Chisinau for allowing the Belarusian community in Moldova to organize the YankaKupalaBelarusianCulturalCenter at the company’s premises. “I am convinced that it will become an attractive piece of “Belarusian land” in Moldova and will help promote Belarus’ culture and enhance friendship between our nations,” the Belarusian leader said.

The Belarus President noted that a lot has been said about the difficult time which Moldova faced during the meetings with his Moldovan counterpart, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament. “All that is surmountable. You just need to join efforts and work hard in this direction,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The presidents toured the trade center with the total area of over 15,000 square meters. Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked to the representatives of the Belarusian community in Moldova. Head of the Belarusian Community in the Republic of Moldova Yuri Statkevich presented a wooden panel to Aleksandr Lukashenko. Veteran of the Great Patriotic War Vladimir Voitsekhovich gave a book of his memoirs to the President.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also laid a wreath at the Stephan the Great Monument.