Official visit to Ukraine
Belarus and Ukraine intend to deepen industrial cooperation and promote trade and economic relations. The agreement was reached during the official talks between Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev on 21 July.
The negotiations were absolutely specific in nature and became a sort of continuation of the previous meeting between the two leaders which took place on 26 April this year. “Today we continued the conversation, focusing on economy. Belarus and Ukraine are interested in expanding exports, developing industrial cooperation, joint projects for modernization of road transport infrastructure, introducing innovative technologies,” the Belarusian president said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko called Ukraine one of the priority markets for Belarusian goods. So is the Belarusian market for Ukrainian products. In 2016 the trade came close to $4 billion, up by more than 10% over 2015. Early this year the growth was even higher. “However it is not time to get complacent. We are far from the past achievements of the Belarusian-Ukrainian cooperation when the annual trade was nearly $8 billion. We have all the possibilities for building up the volumes. The co-chairmen of the joint intergovernmental commission assured us that we will reach this level within two years. Maybe we will be able to surpass it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian head of state said that the two sides agreed to speed up work on setting up new cooperative enterprises in various industries. “We will jointly manufacture any product that is in demand on the international markets. We can co-produce and sell thousands of products. Today’s meeting will give a new impetus to our economic cooperation,” he noted.
“We discussed the most sensitive matters of cooperation one-on-one. We will be moving forward in this direction. I told you we do not have any allergies. We do not trade or make friends against anyone. We want to work together in the markets of the distant arc countries and other states, manufacture joint products and sell them,” the head of state said. “We will make high-technology goods and export them together to foreign markets. This is what our one-on-one agreements were about,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.
Revitalizing the Belarusian-Ukrainian interregional ties, which was the topic of the negotiations, will help achieve significant progress, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. The parties agreed to establish such cooperation and hold the first interregional forum in Gomel. The second such event will be held in Ukraine.
Belarus and Ukraine also agreed on the approaches to the further development of cross-border cooperation.
“I am confident that today's agreements will promote the dynamic development of the two countries, and the friendship between our two peoples,” the head of state said.
Belarus is ready to assist with the peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine. The Belarusian head of state noted that during the negotiations they had spent a lot of time talking about cooperation in the matter of Donetsk Oblast and Lugansk Oblast. “We deliver humanitarian aid to these oblasts. I asked Petro Poroshenko about it. We would like to work there without mediators and using the shortest route possible. I suggested we should do it together if our interests match and these humanitarian convoys coincide,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“They are our people. We have nothing to split. I thank the president and his colleagues, who have agreed to this step. We are capable of helping our kind of people in distress,” stressed the Belarusian leader.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also noted that his stance on the conflict in Ukraine had not changed. “You have to understand that I’ve never intended to get ahead of myself. I’ve been doing, still do, and will do only what two presidents ask of me,” noted the Belarusian head of state.
In particular, Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that a venue for negotiations had been organized in Minsk upon the request of the sides and there were no complaints about it.
“Things will stay like that from now on. Everything the two presidents ask me to do we, Belarusians, will do. We don’t aspire to any glory. What kind of glory are you talking about when people are dying?! You, Ukrainians, should know that you have near and dear people in your life, who live a bit to the north, but are no different from you. If you are having a hard time, we will always help with what we can,” concluded the Belarusian leader.
Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined the close and friendly nature of relations between the nations of Belarus and Ukraine. “We, Russians, and Ukrainians represent the core of the civilization in this part of the European continent,” said the head of state.
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that he had visited the Holodomor museum before the talks. The guide talked about the attitude of Belarusians towards Ukraine residents at the time of Holodomor: Ukrainians went to Belarus while Belarusians shared with them the little food they had. “It is the call of the ancestors, which tells us that we should help each other, we should always be together. It is the most important thing. It is what makes the foundation of our relations. Contracts are less important,” stressed the Belarusian head of state. “I am grateful for your paying most serious attention to the matter. You placed it into the foundation of our relations. The rest will stem from it.”
Before the official negotiations, Aleksandr Lukashenko laid a wreath at the Monument of Eternal Glory at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He also visited the memorial to the victims of Holodomor where he placed a symbolic flower basket “Gorshchіk”.
For his part, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said that advancing relations with Belarus is one of the most important priorities for Ukraine. The Ukrainian head of state also suggested moving as fast during today’s talks in order to sketch out a fundamental roadmap for advancing the bilateral cooperation across the board and set the relevant goals.
Petro Poroshenko told Aleksandr Lukashenko that the Belarus president is always a welcome guest in Ukraine. “I am convinced that Ukraine knows you as a statesman intent on achieving most effective and concrete results,” stressed the Ukraine president.
The Ukrainian leader thanked Belarus for the support, in word and deed, and for the effort to enable good working conditions for the negotiations in Minsk. Petro Poroshenko said that the Minsk Agreements are the one and only document on the de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.
In general, the sides conducted very substantive negotiations and discussed the whole scope of topical issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Following the talks a set of documents on the development of cooperation in different areas were signed in the presence of the heads of state. These included the program of cooperation in culture for 2017-2021 between the culture ministries, the agreement on cooperation in the matters of inter-ethnic relations between the Office of the Commissioner for Religions and Ethnicities of Belarus and the Culture Ministry of Ukraine, the agreement on scientific cooperation between the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Kiev also hosted the Belarusian-Ukrainian business forum, during which the two countries concluded contracts worth over $45 million.