CIS summit in Bishkek
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko took part in the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Bishkek on 13 October.
The summit traditionally took place in the narrow and extended formats in the congress hall of Ala Archa State Residence. It lasted for out 5 hours.
Aleksandr Lukashenko voiced Belarus’ position on the most urgent aspects of cooperation in the Commonwealth.
On the need of consolation in the CIS and the resolution of conflicts
“I’d like to begin my speech with the basics. Let me remind you that the key purpose of creating the Commonwealth was to prevent the disruption of ties after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Our competitors in the West were and are not happy about that. The West keeps attempting to shake us loose, to weaken us, and subjugate us. Georgia was the first country to withdraw from our association. Ukraine is de facto no longer with us. There are big problems with Moldova. Regretfully, Armenia doesn’t always act in the spirit of partnership,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the meeting with the CIS leaders in the narrow format.
The head of state underlined that it is impossible to calmly watch what is happening from the sidelines: “Otherwise, we will be simply torn apart. And ordinary people, the peoples of our countries will be the first ones to suffer. This is why we, the heads of state have to abide by the will of our voters. And we have to at least accomplish and address the tasks we’ve promised to accomplish. As a matter of principle, now is the time to take a more critical look at the situation in our Commonwealth. We shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand. After all, we see that all the chronic conflicts that we were saddled with back in the day inevitably produce very sad consequences. Thank god, a trend towards the resolution of these conflicts has emerged and some of the conflicts have been successfully resolved.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko also remarked that the current generation of politicians, who were born and raised in the Soviet Union, should be the ones to address the existing tasks: “We have knowledge and experience. It is unlikely that today’s young people will be up to the task. Most of them already don’t understand many values and advantages, which united us and still unite us for now.”
“If we accomplish that, those, who believe the local issues can be resolved somewhere else, by someone from across the ocean, will rejoin us. But people over there have trouble finding our countries on the map,” the Belarusian leader noted.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the time has come for serious consolidation within the CIS, and that there are plenty of examples of successful work. This is confirmed, among other things, by the packed agenda of the summit, which includes, for example, a number of important joint statements. "This confirms that the countries have common approaches to such topical issues as freedom of religion, the inadmissibility of language discrimination, the harmonization of public administration systems in digital technologies," the head of state said.
On the multipolarity and the call of a fairer world order
The President emphasized the importance of adopting a statement on interstate relations in a multipolar world: "In general, it reflects our common vision of the world order, with the exception of the paragraph proposing to express concern over the politicization of international courts. But even this mild wording was not supported by everyone. Why do we need these international courts? Especially in our relations. Moreover, we understand, especially now, why they are doing this."
"Apparently, someone hasn't been affected by this yet. Someday you will want to help children, give them a piece of childhood, shelter them from bombings and shelling, and you will be put on the international wanted list for this," the Belarusian leader said.
He stressed that in the context of a rapidly changing situation, the demand for a more just world order, for the associations that are looking for ways to advance cooperation, peaceful coexistence, legal guarantees of development and elimination of discrimination on the basis of religion or income level is greater than ever. "Our CIS is just one of such associations," the head of state is convinced. “Why don't we all appreciate it? We have accumulated vast experience in constructive work, which is of interest outside the CIS. Other integration associations have their eyes on it. But for many it's like an eyesore."
On the Russian language that cannot be lost
In his speech Aleksandr Lukashenko described the initiative of Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for establishing an international organization for promoting the Russian language as timely and in demand.
“You know, all of us speak Russian today, this is why we don’t feel this colossal problem so acutely. But look at the young people in our republics. Many speak Russian worse than they speak English and other languages. [Mastery of the Russian language] is our greatest treasure. If we let things slide, we may end up having to hire an interpreter in order to communicate,” the Belarusian leader stated. “We cannot lose the language of interethnic communication as they call it. And after all, I don’t understand why we should lose it. Does it harm us, our generation? It doesn’t. It should not harm the generation of our kids either. It is our treasure.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that he has always said that the Russian language is not Russia’s language: “It is our common language. We lived as one country for a long time. Proceeding from the concept that the language is a live thing that develops in creative ways, we also developed this Russian language together. There is a bit of Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and so on in this language. This is why why are we losing the Russian language?”
The President remarked that he is rejoiced by the trend in ex-Soviet Central Asia countries, including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, where new schools and universities open and use Russian as the language of instruction.
“But more needs to be done. This is why this initiative concerning the Russian language is as important as some economic initiative. The situation with the Russian language is a disaster in [countries of] the former Warsaw Pact. Unlike them we don’t want our young people to communicate with each other via an interpreter or only in English as I’ve already said,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
On the expansion of the CIS’s influence zone, cooperation in the CSO, BRICS
Speaking about expanding the CIS zone of influence, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Representatives of various international organizations participate in many meetings of the Commonwealth bodies, and today’s adoption of documents on the observer and partner status in the CIS will pave the way for legal regulation of such relations.”
“Belarus has always supported the alignment of activities of international integration associations that have similar goals and objectives. The basic condition is providing mutual support and not creating obstacles. I believe that the Commonwealth member states may be interested in considering other cooperation formats in such important areas as e-commerce, digital technologies, access to public procurement, reduction of roaming tariffs and many other areas,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
He is confident that partners are interested in cooperation within the framework of the SCO and BRICS, implementation of high-tech projects, development of new logistics routes to deliver goods to the far arc countries, including the active promotion of the North-South corridor, close coordination of efforts to ensure food security for the most vulnerable countries. It is necessary to promote such areas of activity without fear of falling under secondary sanctions of the West.
Aleksandr Lukashenko highlighted the new trend associated with the development of such large international organizations as the SCO and BRICS. “Of course, these are organizations of the future. But you see some backpedaling there. Indeed, the level of integration is higher when it comes to the EAEU and the CIS,” the head of state noted. “What if we were part of the SCO and BRICS as a single organization, would that weaken our positions? No. And I am sure that Russia needs to be more active there, without looking at what the Americans or the West do and want. Russia should be a linchpin member of our association - the CIS. We must strive to act as a single organization in BRICS and the SCO. We have a more advanced integration in politics, economy, and so on.
On the situation in the world and in the Middle East
“I should say that the situation is changing catastrophically fast. Shavkat Miromonovich [Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan President] and I talked about it for about an hour [before the beginning of the summit]. It is changing by a lot. More and more new challenges are emerging. Take a look at the Middle East. They no longer shake up us. They shake up the entire world. I hope to god it will stop before World War Three begins,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state remarked that in response to economic pressure Belarus and its allies, primarily Russia, have consolidated forces for the sake of sustainable economic development. Macroeconomic and financial stability has been preserved. Transition to a growth trajectory has been achieved.
“And then Russia has shaken itself and has become way more self-dependent in many areas of economic development. If we put a stop to these Western horrors shoulder to shoulder together with the Commonwealth, our common results would be much higher,” the Belarusian leader is convinced. “If you recall, when we were part of the Soviet Union, everyone was afraid of us. They feared and respected us. Regretfully, the world respects only strength. And together with China, Iran, Brazil, and Global South now, we will not fear Western sanctions. They will reckon with our opinion if we stand together. And our opinion in international affairs will be the decisive one.”
On the value of the CIS format
"Thanks to our common commitment, we have consistently developed multifaceted cooperation despite new unprecedented challenges. By and large, it was thanks to them that we shook things up, took a fresh look at the situation, and found solutions that were on the surface. Today's results speak for themselves," the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the partners have done a lot for the future: "While the West is investing in the war, or, to put it more simply, squandering their taxpayers' money, we are increasing long-term investments in high-tech industries, such as microelectronics, aircraft construction, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, information and communication solutions. Many problems can only be solved together. If we are not together, then it will be just talk and no action."
"Only we ourselves can guarantee our sustainable and safe development. To do this, we need to be self-sufficient in strategically important industries. We have the resources, potential and competencies for this. We need political will and understanding of the importance of the CIS," the Belarusian President stressed.
The head of state urged to preserve the unique formats of unity in the CIS at all costs, to prevent an internal split and joining the ranks of sanctions ideologists. It is also essential to prevent provocations aimed at inciting ethnic and territorial disputes in the post-Soviet space.
"You already feel that Belarus and Russia have now a full grasp of the situation they are in. And especially we, Belarusians," the head of state said. At the same time, he warned other CIS countries of difficult times ahead of them.
"On the one hand, we have the big brother who is trying to help us. Naturally, he has his own interests. On the other hand, we have the United States, the West, and you have already felt it. Don't forget that we belong here. At this table we have the heads of state who can make our peoples happy if we address some issues that have remained unresolved for a long time," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
On the interregional cooperation
The head of state mentioned with satisfaction that an agreement on trade in services and on making investments has been signed within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States this year.
“I am convinced that it is a timely and important document. Bearing in mind these documents and in continuation of previously adopted documents, I suggest stepping up the work on expanding interregional economic cooperation. Shavkat Miromonovich [Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan President] said it right today: if we don’t stand in the way of regions but help them a bit instead, they will resolve many problems without us.”
“It is our unconditional potential that is in demand. We have the relevant experience,” the Belarusian leader said. “The initiative put forward by the Republic of Uzbekistan earlier in favor of holding a CIS forum of regions is relevant and needs to be implemented in practice as fast as possible. It should become a priority task. The CIS states have the necessary experience and accomplishments in the bilateral format.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that Russia will preside over the Commonwealth of Independent States during the next period and during this period heads of regions will be able to get together and start working. It will be a good event, he noted.
At the end of the summit the heads of state made a number of decisions and signed a number of documents. A decision was made that the Russian Federation will preside in the CIS in 2024.