Old New Year reception
Despite its humble position on the world map Belarus can afford pursuing an independent foreign and domestic policy. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement at the presidential reception held on the occasion of the Old New Year on 16 January.
Aleksandr Lukashenko admitted he had never been happier to meet with guests of the celebration. “This year has forced us to look at the world and at our place in it with very wide open eyes. On the one hand, 2020 put masks on us. On the other hand, it removed and tore off masks from some. We came to know each other better. Unfortunately, we became disillusioned about some people. But then we saw some people as a pillar to rely on. We saw Belarusians, who stayed true to honor and conscience at an acute historical moment. It is particularly valuable in our pragmatic age,” the head of state stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that a couple of years ago in this very hall he cautioned that the Belarusian state would face trials and would have to prove whether it deserved its independence or not. “Time has tested us and has given an answer: we deserve it on the whole. They actually declared a war on us in 2020. It was launched not against the President, civil servants, and security agencies but against the powerful state as a whole. A state, which can afford pursuing an independent foreign and domestic policy despite its humble position on the world map,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “If we had been weak, they would have dealt with us without these events and without the war. If we were strong, let’s say, strong like China, they would not make such complaints about us. Although China has encountered quite some pressure: do you remember events in Hong Kong?”
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the sovereignty of a country is unthinkable without a strong authority. “It is very important at a time when we’ve come close to reworking our Constitution. A strong authority is more than one person. It is a nation, which is ready to unite when the state is threatened. We’ve survived (for now) because we were united in our desire to preserve peace and historical truth, our way of life and mentality. We didn’t accomplish it right away. It took us quite some time to get things going,” the Belarusian leader said. “This is why the declared Year of People’s Unity is not only a future task but an irrefutable fact and our answer to ill-wishers: Belarusians have been and will be one people.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that some of the guests of today’s festivities are always in the limelight due to the nature of their work while some people had to come out before the public and boldly and openly express their civil stance.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “You may not recognize it fully but you’ve turned not just another page of our independent history. Within a short period of time you’ve turned the conscience of people, at least the majority of our society. You’ve demonstrated how one can love the Motherland with deeds instead of words. You’ve demonstrated what a true patriot is. We’ve gone through trials that have broken many nations, but we’ve taken our fate into our own hands. We’ve woken up and it is the best thing that could have happened to us, Belarusians. You have to agree that Belarus deserves our care and appreciation of our national status. The status of a citizen of a strong and independent country.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that defense alone will not suffice to preserve this status: it is necessary to be an active player in the global world, including the information world. “Primarily the information world because all the main ‘combat actions’ take place in this field,” he pointed out.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “It is not the time to be delicate although it contradicts our national character. In order to survive, we have to tear off masks and call things the way we see them. The beautiful word ‘fake’ is nothing but common lies. Post-truth is the most primitive manipulation of the human mind. But like before we will use classic objective and honest journalism in order to counteract these technologies and other ones. We have to counteract them with professional accomplishments, sport victories, and artistic achievements in the name of our country. It is very important for many people to learn to recognize good and evil.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that at present more attention is paid to the Internet while conventional mass media – newspapers and television – are considered a thing of the past. However, these communications channels cannot be ignored, he is convinced. Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that various Telegram channels are a very powerful weapon, but they will lose their significance with time, he is convinced. “Don’t reject classic things. We have to preserve them,” he urged.
The organizers wanted the celebration to proceed along the lines of Nikolai Gogol’s Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the idea invoked certain associations in his mind: a beautiful woman turned out to be a witch in this book. “Every girl and woman is beautiful in this hall today, this is why I’ve been thinking long and hard whether I should say it or not… But I think you will understand me. I have nothing against women. Contrariwise, you know very well that I adore women, even more so beautiful ones. So, the entire last year certain forces tried to impose ideas on us that greatly differ from the society’s expectations and needs under the guise of beautiful slogans and elaborate images. I don’t have to explain to you who pursued what political goals and personal benefits. But I thank you for giving a decent answer to this challenge,” Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked guests of the reception.
“Maybe we shouldn’t talk about serious things in such a festive atmosphere. But I couldn’t talk routinely because one cannot evaluate your personal contribution to the accomplishment of tasks of the national caliber in any other way. Every one of you landed in the epicenter of the country’s explosive political life. I didn’t adore women for nothing and I didn’t say that I am a woman’s President for nothing: men were fighting in the streets but our girls did as well as men,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “Time has identified its heroes.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the professionalism and courage of the reporters and the cameramen, who in his words stood alongside security forces. “Those are the girls I’ve talked about,” he explained. “Our athletes, artists, medics, pedagogues, and civil servants demonstrated as much courage, too. It is this kind of people that are in this hall today.”
“I would like to once again to underline (it probably has never been more important because we must not relax): don’t ever doubt my resolve. I will never retreat. First of all, I have nothing but this country. I was born, I lived and will live here. My children will live here. Just like yours, I am sure. They wouldn’t welcome us anywhere else. Secondly, I am deeply convinced that we are right,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “If we just analyze events (it has to be done), cry and moan due to various reasons instead of learning our lessons, these events will be repeated and on a larger scale. We have to learn our lessons. It is the key thing we have to do soon, including during the Belarusian People’s Congress.”
During the reception Aleksandr Lukashenko bestowed orders, medals, and presidential thanks on civil servants, artists, and mass media workers.
Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich was awarded an Order of Fatherland, 2nd degree. Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Natalya Kochanova and Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir Karanik received Orders of Fatherland, 3rd degree. Chairwoman of the National Statistics Committee Inna Medvedeva and Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich were awarded Orders of Honor.
A special reporter of the TV channel STV Grigory Azaryonok was awarded a Medal for Courage. An observer of the publishing house Belarus Segodnya Andrei Mukovozchik and Chief Advisor of the Belarus President Press Service Valery Shulga were awarded Medals for Labor Services. An editor of the publishing house Belarus Segodnya Dmitry Kryat and a special reporter of the TV channel ONT Igor Tur were awarded Medals of Francysk Skaryna.