Working trip to Minsk Oblast

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The success of the Swiss company Stadler Rail Group in Belarus is attributed to the fact that the country managed to create favorable investment environment, President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a ceremony to open the Stadler Minsk factory in Fanipol, Dzershinsk District, on 20 November.

“Today we have a landmark event – the opening of a new, unique for Belarus factory to produce modern electric trains,” the head of state stressed. He remarked that a mere two years ago, on 4 October 2012, a symbolic time capsule was laid in the foundation of the future plant. Today the plant is operating.

“This result of concerted efforts of builders, engineers, specialists and managers of Stadler deserves the highest reward. An optimal period of time has passed from conceiving the idea to bringing it to life,” the President emphasized. In his opinion, it is a good example for those who implement other investment projects.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also pointed out the importance of the fact that the electric trains that are expected to be produced at the Stadler Minsk factory have a good reputation in Belarus and reached the passenger transportation market of Moscow. Other countries of the Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS are also interested in the production of the new company.

The President stressed that the opening of Stadler Minsk in Fanipol has a special importance. “First, it strengthens the export potential of the country. Secondly, the project has a social impact as it will give Fanipol a new lease of life. This town is projected to become one of the satellite cities of Minsk. This will be not a bedroom community but a mechanical engineering center with good infrastructure and comfortable living and working conditions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state is convinced thateconomic cooperation with foreign partners will expand and promising investment projects will be implemented. In his opinion, the successful operation of Stadler Rail Group in Belarus will be an example for the arrival of other companies. Including those represented by the guests, who were present during the opening ceremony.

“We have many promising investment projects that we are eager to implement with assistance of foreign capital,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “Therefore, we are always ready to discuss any initiatives and proposals that will allow bolstering our economy, creating modern high-tech enterprises in the country in addition to infrastructure and new highly-paid jobs,” he added.

Congratulating everyone present on the opening and the launch of the operation of the Stadler Minsk factory, the President stressed: “The quality and reputation of Belarusian electric trains should be top notch so that we could take pride in them”.

The head of state remarked he was the one behind the idea to create this high-tech enterprise. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that the new factory represents direct investments poured by the foreign company that had arrived in Belarus with its own market outlets and was ready to seek new markets.

The President reminded that he had promised to Peter Spuhler, head of the Swiss company Stadler Rail Group, that proper attention would be paid to the development of the enterprise in Belarus. “As you can see the country’s leadership and the president have honored their word. Now I expect the management of the Swiss company and of the factory that has been created in Belarus will keep their own word and will fulfill their promises,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. The head of state specified that plans had been made to rapidly develop the old premises of Belkommunmash after the factory to make modern electric trains was built. Belkommunmash is supposed to become as technologically sophisticated as the Stadler Minsk factory.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that unfortunately he was getting reports that say otherwise. The President said that the Belarus government, the management of the Stadler Minsk factory, the administration of Minsk and the oblast must take all the necessary measures by 2015 to create a modern high-tech enterprise on the basis of Belkommunmash. The President instructed the State Control Committee to monitor the fulfillment of the instruction while the Belarus President Administration is supposed to exercise efforts to make it happen.

After the ceremony to open a new factory the President was fame familiar with the production of modern electric trains and answered questions of foreign and Belarusian journalists about further development of Fanipol, prospects of cooperation between Belarus and European partners.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus will give preferences only to the leading companies in the world.

“We do not plan or build secondary-level companies. Why do we need companies that make products unpopular on the market? Today’s markets are strong and demonstrate serious competition,” the head of state underlined.

The President explained that Switzerland’s Stadler Rail Group has been provided with good conditions to set up the manufacturing of modern electric trains in Belarus. The products of this company, well-known for their high quality, are in demand worldwide, including the demanding European markets. The company has recently received a big order from Moscow.

“We create conditions and provide preferences only to world-class factories that manufacture highly competitive products. The Swiss company has come here with its money, its market and new technologies. They know where to sell their products,” the head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reiterated the importance of further development of Belkommunmash, the company that gave start to the project. Belkommunmash is one of the country’s biggest companies producing trams, trolleybuses and other municipal vehicles. The President will keep under control the further development of the factory under the patronage of Stadler Minsk.

Representatives of the Swiss company vowed to develop a development concert for Belkommunmash.

The President also said that Fanipol and Dzerzhinsk will become the satellite towns of Minsk. “Initially we were not planning to turn these towns into satellite towns. But the situation is as follows: new production facilities, not only Stadler Minsk, have been set up here; these towns have turned into industrial centers of the country,” the head of state noted.

The journalists asked if there are any plans to construct additional housing in light of the construction of the new enterprises. The President answered: “New housing needs to be built. The government will play its part in this. The rest will depend on the people and enterprises themselves. We see that the salaries here are pretty high, and I am sure that they will be growing, as this is a supermodern enterprise,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He praised the high level of qualifications of the Belarusian specialists referring to the assessment by the executives of the Swiss company. They are quick learners. The housing can become one of the reasons for the specialists to settle in these towns. “I believe that factory’s executives should make special efforts to retain the highly qualified specialists. Rental housing is one of the possible solutions to the housing problem. You sign a contract and get an apartment. If someone works at the enterprise, he lives in this apartment. If he quits, he leaves it. This scheme is convenient for the head of any enterprise, and, by the way, this practice is already popular in many European states,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Western sanctions will not affect the cooperation between the European Union (EU), Belarus and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

“We are at the start of this trilateral cooperation,” the head of state said.

“We have already made these steps in the economy. Peter Spuhler said that he does not support these sanctions because they hurt both the Europeans and Russians. Indeed, we have already done some things in the economy. Now you see they have started doing some talking in politics,” the Belarusian head of state said. In his words, when discussing the situation in Ukraine politicians mention the dialogue between the EU and the EEU. “For example, foreign ministers of Germany, Russia and Belarus have been talking about it already. This is a normal format. But they are talking about this on the tip from the Germans. It means that there is certain headway in the EU policy,” the Belarusian leader added.

Speaking about the sanctions, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that they are an anachronism. “You know that it was not Europe who initiated it. Europe is suffering big losses because of these sanctions. But apparently Europe is too dependent on other centers of power for the time being,” the President noted. In his opinion, no matter how difficult it is now, the situation in Ukraine will calm down and these sanctions will be abandoned sooner or later.

“Whatever the sanctions may be, people in the West and in the East are much smarter than those who impose these sanctions, and they will find avenues of cooperation in all areas. It is impossible to squeeze business. It is hard to isolate one person today, and such gigantic regions as the Eurasian Union, the EU will never be isolated,” the Belarusian head of state said. He added that the ties, even between people, are very close.

“Time will come and we will forget about these sanctions. But before we forget about them, we will overcome them. This will be done by such businessmen as Peter Spuhler. No one will make them abandon their own investments which they brought here. No politician will agree to this it, otherwise they are not politicians. Business will not let them do it,” the President remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added that he does not dramatize the situation with the sanctions: “Everyone knows it very well, especially here, in Belarus. Russia will survive them. We will survive everything together. We already have such experience.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he talked to Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Stadler Rail Group Peter Spuhler who promised to invite other companies to Belarus. “He has paved a broad road to Belarus which can be used by other European businessmen,” the head of state noted.

The President emphasized that Belarus will do everything to help Peter Spuhler’s business prosper here. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he thinks highly of Peter Spuhler for he is a man of his word. “You would agree that such people are few, especially in the current economic situation in Europe and other countries. We will support him in every possible way,” the Belarusian President noted.

The ceremony to open a new factory in Fanipol was attended by many foreign investors interested in cooperation with Belarus.