Negotiations with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in Malabo on 9 December.
After an official welcome ceremony featuring national anthems and an honor guard company the heads of state will meet for negotiations.
During the restricted-attendance talks Aleksandr Lukashenko said that there is great potential for development in Equatorial Guinea.
After the Equatorial Guinea president noted that his country is small in size, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “You are indeed a small country but with huge opportunities. Some of the places I’ve seen here are simply stunning in their beauty. I thought it would be difficult even for us to build things like these.”
Belarus is ready to cooperate, share its experience and technologies in various spheres, and help train personnel.
“I told your vice president [during the meeting at the airport] one thing that I’ve brought here with me: I believe that despite the possession of such riches your country should not import what it can manufacture domestically,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“I completely agree,” Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said in response.
It is commonly known that after oil deposits were discovered in Equatorial Guinea in the mid-1990s, the country’s economy changed radically. It used to rely on agriculture, raw materials, and crop husbandry. Now earnings from the oil and gas industry make up over 90% of the revenues of the state budget.
Restricted-attendance talks were followed by negotiations involving members of the delegations.
The Belarusian head of state noted that it was his first visit to Central Africa and he was impressed with what he had seen in this part of the beautiful African continent. “Beautiful forests, rivers, the Atlantic Ocean with rich fish reserves. These are truly heavenly treasures. And I told the president that you live in paradise. But the greatest treasure of any country is its people. It is equally applicable both to Belarus and to Equatorial Guinea. Kind, hardworking people, who genuinely wish to take care of their native land, people, who are open to new knowledge, experience, people, who truly feel their friends and like-minded persons,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian leader stated: “Within the last six months we’ve secured an impressive leap. We’ve exchanged visits at the top level, created a joint permanent commission on cooperation, held the commission’s first session, and substantially invigorated business activity.”
He mentioned the ambitious goals the Equatorial Guinea president set out to accomplish in order to increase the prosperity of the nation: “Your government pursues a policy of openness, trying to systematically develop infrastructure, accelerate the country’s industrialization, and provide the economy with well-trained manpower.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked he had been impressed by the words of the Equatorial Guinea president during restricted-attendance talks. He said that the country is lagging behind in providing people with necessities, primarily food because it focused heavily on infrastructure development. “It needs compensating. I told the president that we are ready to help you with that. We already have such experience on your continent. In Zimbabwe. The country couldn’t feed its own people. But today it exports grain as the Zimbabwe president says. We’ve solved this problem together within only two years,” he quoted an example of effective cooperation.
The president also remarked that Equatorial Guinea actively speaks in favor of reinforcing African unity, in favor of reforming the UN Security Council to reflect Africa’s role in the international arena, in favor of advancing political and economic cooperation in Central Africa.
“It is a great honor to have such a friend. Belarus is a reliable partner for Equatorial Guinea. We bolster our friendship not only with words but with deeds. We have no differences of opinion in politics. We have no topics we’d rather not discuss. Mutually beneficial, friendly, and even brotherly relations develop dynamically between our countries,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
He added that a Belarusian embassy will soon start working in Malabo. An embassy of Equatorial Guinea is expected to open in Belarus by the end of 2024.
During the talks Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus is ready to provide comprehensive solutions for the sake of development of Equatorial Guinea.
“Belarus has experience of mechanization and industrialization of agriculture. Our machines, equipment, technologies are simple and reliable. We make a broad range of machines and equipment for other branches of the economy. I am convinced that our trucks, buses, road construction machines, municipal vehicles, fire trucks, mining vehicles, timber harvesters will be in demand in the course of accomplishing the tasks formulated by Equatorial Guinea’s leadership in order to improve social and economic indicators and raise the population’s living standards. We know about the need for comprehensive solutions and are ready to provide them,” the Belarusian head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned the rapid advancement of cooperation in healthcare. Belarusian specialists have started training personnel in Equatorial Guinea hospitals. “We have already started and are ready to continue passing on experience and knowledge in the sphere of management of hospital complexes, organization of primary medical aid for your population, personnel training, and pharmaceutics. I am ready to guarantee that the results will impress you,” the president said.
He also mentioned the need to actively use opportunities in the humanitarian sphere – education, science, sport, tourism, and culture – in order to bring the two nations even closer to each other.
In turn, Belarus is interested in importing Equatorial Guinea cocoa, tropical vegetables and fruits, in the joint processing of fish products.
“Belarus is ready to become a bridge to Eurasia for your country. We count on reciprocal support within the framework of the African Union and other integration associations. I am convinced it will contribute to the growth of business activity,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
In his words, the joint work of business circles and national chambers of commerce and industry should become the key link in the process of establishment and formation of new steady business ties. “We are open to a dialogue about all the matters of interest and are ready to discuss in detail all the cooperation avenues,” the Belarusian leader assured.
The Belarusian head of state said: “Certainly, we didn’t come into your country to offer charity. We cannot do it and we do not have to do it. But we are not going to profiteer at the expense of your people, your country either. We are no colonizers. We are your friends. As we share technologies in many areas where you need them, we will train your people how to use these technologies. We will not send our workers to you. We will send a sufficient number of specialists in agriculture, manufacturing sector, healthcare, education… While your people will do the work. And our task is to teach your people.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarusians have come to Equatorial Guinea as friends. He suggested doing everything necessary in order to expand cooperation onto other countries of the region. “I would very much like for you and us to do everything so that we could bring the technologies we will introduce here, in Equatorial Guinea to other countries of the African continent. We have to help the countries that desire prosperity for their nations and development for their states. I think it's within our power to realize,” he said.
In his statement after the talks the Belarusian president said that the negotiations with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo were very substantial.
Belarus focused on what it can offer to Equatorial Guinea, what problems can be resolved taking into account Belarus’ experience and knowledge. “As a result of the visit and negotiations without an exaggeration we started a new stage of Belarus-Equatorial Guinea relations. Within only a year we’ve done the work many countries take decades to accomplish. This fact very clearly indicates mutual interest and eagerness to advance the partnership to a brand new level,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.
In his words, as far as the practical side is concerned, key avenues were determined where the parties will work hard taking into account Belarus’ capabilities and Equatorial Guinea’s preferences.
All the cooperation avenues and concrete projects are stipulated by the roadmap. It is designed to guide Belarus’ cooperation with Equatorial Guinea through 2026. “By signing the document, we placed our cooperation on a solid legal foundation. In addition to the roadmap a package of bilateral agreements and documents was signed,” the Belarus president noted.
The promising projects include the construction of an agrotown with the necessary infrastructure, the construction of 100 welfare residential buildings, the creation of a factory able to make up to 40 million ceramic bricks per annum; sales of fire trucks, construction machines and other vehicles and machines, including for the sake of implementing a joint project for timber harvesting and the creation of new farmlands, efforts to expand the power grid onto remote areas. “Not to mention healthcare, education, and so on,” the head of state remarked.
Agreements were also reached on farming individual kinds of agricultural crops, on opening agrochemical labs, and other things.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stated: “I would like to note specifically that agreements were reached on realizing the first stage of creation of a regional hub for promoting Belarusian goods onto markets of the countries in Central and Western Africa.”
Belarus has also offered grants to Equatorial Guinea students for going to medical education institutions in Belarus’ territory. Apart from that, the healthcare ministries agreed on organizing the retraining of Equatorial Guinea medics in Belarus.
“We’ve decided to begin active work right now: without taking it slowly and without bureaucratic foot-dragging. All the emerging issues will be promptly resolved. With assistance of the heads of state if need be. The governments have been instructed to take the necessary financial, legal and organizational measures as fast as possible,” the Belarusian head of state said.
He stressed that Belarus has experience of successful work in Africa and on other continents. The Equatorial Guinea president could make sure of that by talking to colleagues at the climate action summit in Dubai the week before. “You and I may have organized a session of the African Union there,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked with a bit of humor.
The president said he was confident that the stipulated agreements will soon start working for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea and results will be achieved across the board as early as in 2024. He also offered thanks for the warm welcome and hospitality the Belarusian delegation had enjoyed.
To sum up results of the negotiations, Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned several ideas he and Equatorial Guinea’s leadership had discussed. “The country should not spend foreign currency on buying the products and goods Equatorial Guinea can make. It is an axiom,” the Belarusian leader said.
“Secondly. When we meet with some representatives of countries, including with my friend from Equatorial Guinea, I always talk about technologies. And some start criticizing me: ‘What technologies are you talking about? You are not a gigantic country!’ I have to say that no, we are not a gigantic country but we have enough technologies in agriculture, manufacturing sector, and so on in order to take Equatorial Guinea to the next level or two if the country uses them,” the president remarked. “And we are ready not to simply come and grab a piece of the pie as colonialists did in the past. We are ready to teach people in Equatorial Guinea how to use these technologies as a result of our cooperation. We will pass on what we know how to do to the people of Equatorial Guinea. What the nation of this country knows how to do will be passed on to us. Including goods. It is what this cooperation is all about.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that right now Equatorial Guinea does not need some high technologies. For instance, this country does not need to launch spacecraft into outer space. The realization of more down-to-earth but extremely necessary projects is the idea.
“I would like to once again underline (the president knows it) that I want the people of Equatorial Guinea and peoples in Africa to learn that we are not coming here in order to profiteer here and now. We would like to cooperate with you on a mutually beneficial basis. We don’t want to offer charity. That would only be harmful to our nations. We will cooperate in the name of our nations,” the Belarus president said.
He also mentioned his surprise in response to what he had seen on the island where the capital city of Malabo is located. “My staffers have already told me that things are even more wonderful in the territory where you and I will drive or will fly tomorrow. You just need just a little bit more to make it a true paradise. Although you already live as if you were in paradise. You’ve set out to accomplish an ambitious task. I promise to you as a friend that we will be able to accomplish this task. All the problems Equatorial Guinea needs to deal with right now Belarus had to resolve 30 years ago. We are familiar with all of it. This is why we are at your service,” the Belarusian leader assured.
The president stated that the documents the parties had signed are generic but 74 concrete projects had already been agreed in furtherance of these documents. “It is a feat accomplished by members of the governments of Equatorial Guinea and Belarus, by our specialists. The 74 concrete projects that we have to realize within the next 2-3 years. We will start digging the ground and tackling problems in Equatorial Guinea tomorrow,” the president concluded.
A roadmap to guide the advancement of cooperation between Belarus and Equatorial Guinea was signed in Malabo after negotiations of the two heads of state were completed. The document was signed by the presidents Aleksandr Lukashenko and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
The roadmap was put together taking into account Equatorial Guinea’s needs. It is a comprehensive document. It covers 15 key cooperation avenues, including manufacturing cooperation projects, deliveries of Belarusian machines, vehicles, and equipment, organization of maintenance of Belarusian machines and vehicles in addition to agriculture, healthcare, pharmaceutics, sales of medical equipment, forestry industry. The roadmap covers the period from 2024 through 2026.
A package of documents meant to advance cooperation in various spheres was also signed in the presence of the heads of state.
The ministers of foreign affairs passed a joint statement as a result of the Belarus president’s visit to Equatorial Guinea.
Agreements were signed on encouragement and mutual protection of investments, on avoiding double taxation and prevention of profit tax and property tax evasion, on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs affairs.
Belarus and Equatorial Guinea also signed agreements on cooperation in tourism, on mutual recognition of education documents, on cooperation in science and technology.
Apart from that, a number of documents were signed at the interagency level, including memorandums of cooperation and mutual understanding.
A total of about 15 bilateral documents were signed.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo bestowed an Order of Independence upon Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
This order is one of the highest government awards in Equatorial Guinea.
The president of Equatorial Guinea said: “It is a great honor for us to host such a great person in the territory of our Motherland. And we didn’t expect him to visit us so soon.”
He remarked that the leaders of the two countries met in Minsk only several months ago and shortly after Aleksandr Lukashenko arrived in Equatorial Guinea. “We are very grateful,” Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said.
As he accepted the order, Aleksandr Lukashenko stated: “There is no way out. Equatorial Guinea must be independent!”