Opening of 25th International Festival of Arts Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk

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Slavonic Bazaar is a venue of peace and good will, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the opening of the 25th International Festival of Arts Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk on 14 July.

The head of state noted that the festival is an age-mate of sovereign Belarus. “It is evolving together with the country and reflects, like a mirror, every stage in the development of the young state,” the Belarusian leader noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that this year’s jubilee edition of the forum is the key event of 2016 which has been declared the Year of Culture in Belarus. “This celebration is an embodiment of our spiritual wealth, openness and interest in the culture of different nations. It was for a reason that the three sisterly nations, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, teamed up at some moment in the past. We formed the core of this festival. Since its foundation, we have been demonstrating our cultural unity, albeit with varying success,” the President said.

The Belarusian leader pointed out that the festival is often compared with the Olympic Games. “If we paraphrase Pierre de Coubertin’s words: O Festival, You are Peace! Slavonic Bazaar is indeed a venue of peace and good will,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Our states attach special importance to the development of national art, carefully preserve traditions and art achievements of our predecessors. We can rightfully say that the three countries – Belarus, Russia and Ukraine – are the citadel of traditional culture,” he stressed.

The President believes this is especially important at a time when the world is losing the guidelines that had previously provided the basis for the cohesion of people of different views, generations and cultures. “Today many countries are suffering from ethnic strife, religious intolerance, the decline of morality, severe controversial conflicts. I think the point is that fruitful development of art requires understanding rather than confrontation, stronger humanistic traditions rather than barbaric destruction of cultural monuments and denial of all public morals,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“It is the constructive principles that our festival is based on. These principles constitute its strength and appeal,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Speaking about what the festival has given to Vitebsk, Belarus and the whole world over the past quarter of a century, Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned the construction of a unique amphitheater that enables event organizers to use cutting-edge innovations of stage design and setup. The festival has also uncovered hundreds of talents, young singers and turned the city of Vitebsk into a modern Belarusian capital of culture and the world’s capital of festivals hosting the headquarters of World Association of Festivals.

Slavonic Bazaar draws thousands of tourists to Belarus, promotes the country’s positive image and contributes to economic recovery. Besides, thanks to the festival, the world got to know about Belarus, its national culture and hospitable people.

 “The main thing is that every year, the festival becomes a real, candid and heartwarming celebration for millions of people, a celebration of friendship, joy, amusement, and creativity that leaves long-lasting traces in our hearts. The festival is a blend of classic and contemporary, respect for traditions and freedom of creativity,” the head of state said.

“Today, when even the most prestigious international contests are not free of backstage political intrigues, our festival remains fair and unbiased. This is why Slavonic Bazaar has won its way to the hearts of many viewers on five continents,” Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out.

The President recalled that twenty years ago, there were suggestions “to set the festival on a journey around the world” which could lead to a loss of authenticity of this forum. “Back then, I had to take a serious look at Slavonic Bazaar and add “in Vitebsk” into the title, because some “well-wishers” wanted to steal it away from us and turn it into a purely commercial project. Everyone wanted to make money. If that had happened, we would not have had the festival today,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the opening of the forum, the Belarusian head of state presented awards to art workers of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine in recognition of their considerable contribution to the development of the festival, 2015-2016 Union State literature and art awards, and also Through Art Towards Peace and Understanding special award.