MINSK, 1 December (BelTA) - Belarus and Italy are opening a new phase in the partnership based on mutual respect, close and fair dialogue at the level of the heads of state, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said after his meeting with Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi on 30 November.
During the meeting, held in an atmosphere of mutual understanding, the two sides discussed the state and prospects of the Belarusian-Italian relations in the politics, trade and economy, industry, loan and investment, banking issues, transport and logistics, science, education and culture. Besides, the parties considered the most important issues of the international and regional agenda.
Welcoming Silvio Berlusconi in Minsk, Alexander Lukashenko pointed out that a long time had passed since their previous meeting in Rome. Since then meetings with several Italian politicians and heads of major companies have taken place. “We are ready to advance to a certain level of cooperation not only between the states but also between companies,” stressed the Belarus President.
The Italian side in its turn offered to share its know-how in quick housing construction. “I know that your country is experiencing a housing construction boom now. And our know-how of constructing high-quality housing within a short period of time will be useful to you,” Silvio Berlusconi said.
To illustrate his point, the Italian Prime Minister gave the example of the Abruzzo region, where about 300 houses are provided weekly to people who lost shelter as a result of the earthquake.
“One of the most important issues we can discuss today is the organizing of an Italian business mission to Belarus which I can head,” Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi said
“I have personally encouraged both the visit of Franco Frattini to Minsk and the growth of interest in Belarus on the part of Italian business, which has translated into a visit of Finmeccanica’s delegation to Minsk,” said the Italian Prime Minister. “I agree with you that we can give a strong impetus to the improvement of trade and industrial relations between our countries,” he added.
Silvio Berlusconi reminded that he once headed Confindustria, the Italian Confederation of Industries. “I am familiar with everybody there and know who can work with Belarus,” the Prime Minister said.
He expressed the confidence that Belarus and Italy can make great progress in furthering their relations.
Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi approved the relevant proposal of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to set up an Italian industrial district in the Brest oblast of Belarus.
“I was especially pleased to hear this proposal of Belarus,” said Silvio Berlusconi. He believes that the present trade and economic relations between Belarus and Italy are below their potential.
Silvio Berlusconi reminded that Italy ranks ninth in Belarus’ trade turnover and fifteenth in the volume of investments in the Belarusian economy. “It is far below the capacity,” stressed the Italian PM.
The honored guest said that he was sure Belarus and Italy will soon sign an agreement on enhancing cultural cooperation.
“We consider the visit of the Italian Premier not only in the context of bilateral relations with Italy, but much broader. It is a pronounced gesture in support of Belarus in the international arena,” the Belarusian head of state said.
“I am sure that our meeting will give a clear signal to the governments, ministries, agencies, local administrations, business, scientific, cultural circles of Belarus and Italy to step up joint work and will give a go-ahead to joint business projects,” said the Belarusian head of government.
Alexander Lukashenko believes that Silvio Berlusconi’s decision to go on a working visit to Belarus (the first one in the history of the bilateral diplomatic relations) is of fundamental importance for the future development of the mutually beneficial cooperation between the nations.
The Belarusian head of state stressed that Belarusian-Italian ties are based on good human relations, which are constantly developed thanks to the wide involvement of Italian citizens in Belarusian children health recreation projects. The Belarus President thanked the Italian side for that.
“We view Italy as a privileged partner and we are ready to create the most favorable environment for bilateral cooperation,” said the Belarusian President
Alexander Lukashenko stressed that Belarus is ready for a serious work to develop the interaction with Italy in all fields, such as trade and economy, credits and investments, banking sector, transport and logistics, science, education, and culture. “We have no secret topics,” said he.
Alexander Lukashenko also assured that Belarus will support the direct inter-regional contacts between the two countries.
According to the Belarusian President, the existing agreements will become a solid basis for a considerable expansion of economic and investment cooperation between Belarus and Italy. The documents, which were signed in Minsk on 30 November, finalize the legal framework formation. Therefore, President of Belarus believes that “businessmen of the two countries will interact more confidently and will be protected.
After the talks between the Belarusian President and the Italian Prime Minister, the governments of both countries signed an agreement on economic cooperation, which is the basic document in this area. The document stipulates the creation of the Belarusian-Italian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. The first session of the commission will take place in spring 2010.
The sides exchanged ratification instruments for the intergovernmental convention on the avoidance of double taxation in respect to income and capital taxes and prevention of tax evasion.
An agreement on cooperation in veterinary medicine was also signed.
The Belarusian government and the Italian company Finmeccanica signed a memorandum of cooperation in transport, power engineering, space, security and security systems.
Belarus handed over to Italy some war records on the Italian nationals that were held in the prisoner-of-war camps in Belarus during the Second World War. The documents also contain the data on the ethnic Italians who were subject to repression in the USSR in the 1930s.
According to the Belarusian head of state, the materials are only a part of those documents that Belarus has. He stressed that if the Italian side is interested in the documents, Belarus is ready for a close cooperation in the area.
“We understand how it is important for you, for the Italian families, to find out what exactly happened to their relatives during the war,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
Silvio Berlusconi thanked the Belarusian side for this fine gesture. “I am deeply touched. I did not know about it. This is an unexpected and a very valuable present. We will surely examine these documents in detail,” the Italian Prime Minister said.
In conclusion the Italian PM told Alexander Lukashenko: “I wish luck to you and your nation that loves you as the election results we can see testify”.