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10 Sep 2023

Renovation in pig breeding, open hearts for Africa, plans for Uzbekistan in President’s Week

Renovation in pig breeding, open hearts for Africa, plans for Uzbekistan in President’s Week
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Aleksandr Lukashenko

The work schedule of the Belarus president is always full of events. Aleksandr Lukashenko holds conferences and working meetings on the most topical matters concerning the country’s development, regularly visits the regions, goes on foreign trips and welcomes foreign guests, talks to reporters, signs decrees and laws. And even if there are no public events, it does not mean that the head of state does not work. It must be said that even when he relaxes, for instance, by playing ice hockey or chopping firewood, Aleksandr Lukashenko happens to find the time to give yet another instruction. All the decisions must be prompted by life, he likes to say.

The President’s Week project is intended for those, who want to keep up with the head of state, be up-to-date on the latest statements and decisions of the Belarusian leader.

When is the Belarusian animal husbandry industry due for “blamestorming”? Why did Aleksandr Lukashenko host a government conference to discuss pig breeding? How is the modernization of the pig breeding industry supposed to improve profitability and conditions for the pigs?

What brings Belarus and Uzbekistan closer to each other? Where is the common interest according to the president? When is he going to go skiing down the slopes of Uzbek mountains? Can Belarus help bolster the independence of African countries? What did Aleksandr Lukashenko and the president of Equatorial Guinea agree on in Minsk? When do the countries intend to realize plans worth $100 million? Who will be affected by the new administrative procedures in Belarusian diplomatic missions? Why will Belarus citizens, who live abroad, have to go to the Motherland? Who won the crown of Miss Belarus 2023? What did the head of state gift to the girls? These and many other things are covered by the latest episode of BelTA’s special project President’s Week.

RENOVATION IN PIG BREEDING. Will Belarus run short of shashlik?

Aleksandr Lukashenko started the work week with a government conference about the development of the pig breeding industry. And it was only the first step towards preparing a major offsite seminar, during which the state of affairs in the entire animal husbandry industry will be discussed soon.

Nevertheless, due to peculiarities of the existing problems it was necessary to look at the situation in this branch of agribusiness that accounts for a quarter of the country’s total meat production at the level of the head of state. Negative dynamics has been registered here for the last two years. It certainly gives reasons for concern.

Negative trends and their reasons

Describing the current situation, the head of state cited some statistical data. Pig production (cultivation) has decreased by almost 12% over the past two years. The production volumes are not even close to those planned in the state program Agrarian Business 2021-2025. Pig production has dropped in all the regions and has halved in Gomel Oblast.

The number of pigs has decreased by more than 11% or by 290,000 heads. The biggest reduction has been registered in Gomel Oblast and Minsk Oblast.

Pig mortality has increased in almost every second district of the country. The number of piglets has gone down by 8%.

“Against the sector’s poor performance in the previous years, this year is showing insignificant progress in pig production (cultivation) volumes across the country,” the head of state said. “We have growth, but it is at the level of arithmetic error.”

The president was told that pig mortality continued growing in all the regions of the country except for Grodno Oblast and Minsk Oblast. The number of piglets has decreased due to the reduction of litter in Vitebsk Oblast and Minsk Oblast. Efficiency indicators are decreasing, the number of loss-making pig breeding farms is growing, Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The causes of the problems are easy to guess. The head of state pointed them out. These were gross violations of biological protection of the complexes: insufficient work on rodent and bird control, disinfection, provision of protective clothing. Pig accounting revealed false reporting and concealment of pig mortality numbers.

The president's instructions to restore the number of pigs and the volume of pork production to the level of 2012, set back in 2014, have not been fulfilled so far.

The head of state believes that the current situation requires, first of all, basic technological and labor discipline, better breeding and pedigree work, and improved compound feed formulations. Belarusian scientists should join the efforts to solve the current issues.

“We have [Belarusian National Biotechnology Corporation] BNBC operating in the country, which can meet any of your needs. You are welcome to establish contacts and take the best mixed fodder,” the head of state said.

Modernization and the matter of national importance

During the government conference the president also said it is necessary to modernize the country’s pig breeding complexes similarly to dairy complexes. A concrete program on bringing these complexes to shape is necessary since many of them are deteriorated and outdated.

Continuing the line of thought, the president recalled that medium-sized pig breeding complexes (for about 24,000 head each) were built in individual agricultural enterprises upon his instruction back in the day and these complexes have proved to be a good idea.

The head of state drew attention to ensuring biological security of pig breeding complexes, which he sees as a matter of national importance. “Please keep in mind that helping agricultural workers with harvesting, providing the agricultural sector with equipment, fertilizers and financial resources is the responsibility of the so-called agricultural business, the responsibility of governors, heads of district executive committees, heads of agricultural enterprises. Meanwhile, the government should strictly control how order and biosecurity are maintained. The same pertains to soil fertility. Reclamation, soil fertility, roads, and the rest represent the area of responsibility of government agencies. Therefore, ensuring biological security and order at complexes is a matter of national importance,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Results of the government conference

The oblast governors informed the head of state in detail about the state of affairs in the pork industry at the regional level. Participants of the meeting discussed in detail what has to be done with the loss-making pig breeding complexes that use outdated technologies. The president’s main message is to move towards the development of high-tech complexes, both as part of their modernization and construction. A detailed regional analysis will be conducted to determine the complexes that should be built or reconstructed as well as the assistance from the government.

Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed to pay special attention to the profitability of both newly constructed facilities and the existing ones. If, for example, some complexes are deeply unprofitable, there is no need to artificially support them, trying to save them at any cost.

Compliance with technological and labor discipline and order at pig farms is a matter of national importance

Pork imports were also discussed during the meeting. It was emphasized that the country produces enough pork to meet its own needs and there is no shortage. Pork is imported mainly for the needs of the meat processing industry and only from the countries which offer better prices in comparison to Belarusian pork.

Belarusian Agriculture and Food Minister Sergei Bartosh told reporters that a program to build and upgrade pig breeding complexes will be developed in Belarus. It is necessary to restore the previously achieved level of pork production. There are plans to build about 14 large technological complexes, with each able to house about 24,000 pigs.

In turn, Minsk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Turchin stressed that the construction of modern pig complexes is not only about technologies but also about the protection from certain diseases that old pig farms have accumulated. As for Minsk Oblast, the president’s instruction to achieve pork production on par with 2012 has been fulfilled and even exceeded.

According to Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir Karanik, the region produces more than a quarter of all pork in the country. There are various pig farms in operation, but he considers complexes for 24,000 heads to be the best ones. “In order to ensure safety, reduce risks and environmental impact, 24,000 heads seem to be optimal. The design of new complexes as well as reconstruction efforts is carried out with these figures in mind,” he said.

On the whole, Belarus’ agribusiness fully satisfies the nation’s demand for pork. For instance, in Grodno Oblast only a quarter of the pork the region makes is shipped to shops. The rest gets processed.

A COMMON POLICY. What brings Belarus and Uzbekistan closer to each other?

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Chairwoman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan Tanzila Narbayeva in the Palace of Independence on 5 September.

It is worth noting that the visit took place in the year when Belarus and Uzbekistan mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. “A lot has been done, but there is room for improvement in this difficult time, when we are at a turning point in international relations,” the president said describing the level of bilateral cooperation.

Belarus is ready to expand relations and share any technology with Uzbekistan. The head of state welcomed effective interaction and mutual support on international platforms and in integration associations. He appreciated Uzbekistan’s decision to uphold Belarus’ efforts to fast-track its admission to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. “We will always support you, because we share your commitment to peace and friendly relations with neighbors and other countries,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Regional cooperation

The president believes that the Belarus-Uzbekistan Women’s Business Forum, which took place in Minsk, would play a role in the development of relations between the two countries. “I would really like us to switch to regional cooperation (we already have this experience with the Russian Federation), the core of which is the economy. This is important for us, and even more important for Uzbekistan in terms of technology. In this case we will not have to start out from simple trade, but from cooperation between enterprises, technology transfer to Uzbekistan - it would bring some benefits to you. We are absolutely open for this type of cooperation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The head of state emphasized that Belarus has very warm feelings for Uzbekistan and its people who are similar to Belarusians in one important way - they are very hardworking people who had to overcome many trials in their history.

Electoral experience

The current visit of the Uzbekistan parliament delegation to Minsk took place following important political events in this country - a constitutional referendum and an early presidential election. “A great job. Nicely done. There were some minor issues the day before, but you handled it elegantly and in time (I told Shavkat Mirziyoyev about this). It went down well with people. Our observers were there and saw that everything was done well. You have done a great job in this regard. This is important for us, because we are also improving our fundamental law, the electoral legislation,” the Belarusian leader said.

The president explained that in the near future Belarus will also hold elections, the single voting day, it will set up two chambers of the parliament, and also form the highest representative body of people’s power - the Belarusian People’s Congress. In this context, the recent electoral events in Uzbekistan are of interest to Belarus. “We would really appreciate your advice on what to pay attention to in the current situation,” the head of state said.

The Uzbekistan president

Speaking about his personal attitude to this country, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he had been closely watching developments in Uzbekistan for a long time. He believes that the people of Uzbekistan are lucky with the incumbent leader, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev: “You have a very good president. I tell him right in his face: you should not let down your people who have so much trust in you and who believe you so much.”

“You are lucky because your president is strongly determined to make life better for Uzbekistan and its people,” the Belarusian leader added. “Uzbekistan has a great future. And here is my advice to you: try to keep your president in office as long as possible. He needs time to show what he can do.”

Plans to go to Uzbek mountains in winter

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that he had visited Uzbekistan several times. Together with Shavkat Mirziyoyev he toured the south of this republic not so long ago. This part of the country has some stunning sights. Uzbekistan’s head of state invited the Belarusian counterpart to come to his country again. The Belarus president admitted that he would like to visit the mountainous regions of this country in winter.

He said: “I will try to make time to visit your mountains in the near future.”

In turn, Tanzila Narbayeva conveyed greetings from the Uzbekistan president and an invitation to visit the country: the Belarusian leader is expected to come to Uzbekistan at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

NOTE FOR EMIGRANTS. What changed for Belarus citizens, who stay abroad?

On 4 September the president signed decree No.278 “On the procedure for issuing documents and committing actions”. The document is designed to further improve the discharge of administrative procedures and optimize the operation of diplomatic missions and consular institutions of Belarus. The decree stipulates how administrative procedures should be done as well as notarial actions, which diplomatic agents and officials of consular missions can do.

The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on the innovations. The decree came into force on 7 September. It amends the list of consular actions and administrative procedures, which Belarus’ diplomatic institutions abroad can perform upon applications of citizens.

Embassies and consulates will still take care of citizenship and consular registry matters, keep official records of births, deaths and marriages, and do the paperwork Belarusians, who permanently live abroad, need. They will also issue certificates for return to Belarus, verify last wills, agreements, and rejections, verify the authenticity of copies and signatures on documents.

At the same time embassies and consulates are no longer authorized to issue, exchange, and extend all kinds of passports and personal identification cards. Such procedures can be completed only in Belarus.

Citizens, who permanently live abroad and are registered with the local Belarusian embassy or consulate, will be able to have their passports exchanged by the central consular office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the citizenship and migration office in the place of their last residence (the last residence of their parents for citizens, who have not lived in Belarus).

Apostille can be granted in a Belarusian branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Education Ministry, the Healthcare Ministry, and other government agencies depending on the type of documents. Documents can be submitted only by their owners or by a representative with a Belarusian letter of attorney.

Citizens will also have to personally submit documents in a number of other administrative procedures the decree’s addendum stipulates.

Applications, which were submitted before the decree came into force, will be processed according to the previous procedure.

DECOLONIZATION. What can Belarus offer to Africa?

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo visited Belarus this week. Equatorial Guinea has a small territory and a small population. However, it is rich in natural resources. Oil and natural gas are the key ones. The country is Africa’s leader in terms of GDP per capita.

Aleksandr Lukashenko warmly welcomed his colleague in the Palace of Independence: “Glad to welcome you in Belarus. We have been waiting for you for a long time. Africa has a romantic and mysterious allure to people from the north. Everyone perceives this continent in their own way. But everyone shares the view that Africa will in many ways shape the future of the planet. I also hold this opinion. For me, Africa is no longer a mysterious continent. In the past I visited mostly North Africa, while in recent years I have been able to visit both the center and the south of your continent. Therefore, I have an understanding of what Africa is, and I am happy with the processes that are taking place in Africa.”

Africa is developing and is getting rid of its colonial past ever more. Belarus is ready to give a hand to Africa with that. Despite the availability of natural resources, many countries on the continent still have technological and economic dependence on the former colonizers. In other words, times of slavery and exploitation have not gone away. They have only acquired more civilized and disguised forms.

As a technologically advanced country Belarus is ready to share these technologies not only with Equatorial Guinea but also with other African countries, which are interested in it. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “You have to know that you are no strangers to us. To Belarusians and Russians. Because we have a history of cooperation that goes back to the depth of development and existence of the Soviet Union. Since you are close people for us, not strangers, we invite you to Belarus and open our hearts before you.”

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was particularly grateful to the Belarusian side for the friendly approach and the readiness to work together. He said: “We share the readiness to do effective joint work, readiness for genuine manufacturing cooperation, which will allow us to realize the potential of our countries. It is obvious that this cooperation can become kind of a platform not only for aiding Equatorial Guinea but also for aiding other African countries, which suffer from extreme poverty.”

The Equatorial Guinea president is convinced that the independence African countries achieved many years ago is still nominal because many of the countries are still under powerful economic pressure. “We suffer from dependence on the countries, which colonized us back in the day, Western countries,” he said. “We’ve come here and would like to get support for the work Equatorial Guinea already does on its own in order to secure transformation [on the African continent],” he explained.

The leader of the African country arrived in Belarus in the evening on 6 September. The itinerary of the visit was quite intensive and included official negotiations with Aleksandr Lukashenko in the Palace of Independence, the signing of bilateral documents, visits to enterprises, and familiarization with capabilities of Belarusian manufacturers. On completion of his official visit to Belarus on 8 September Aleksandr Lukashenko personally saw off his counterpart at the airport.

Africa’s renaissance

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “It is obvious that Africa is going through kind of a renaissance. Africa is becoming the key to the planet’s sustainable development in the 21st century before our very eyes.”

In his words, the joint peacemaking mission of leaders of the African Union countries to Ukraine and Russia, Africa’s active role in BRICS and the Non-Aligned Movement vividly testify to it.

The Belarusian head of state said: “African countries are resolved to escape the diktat of Western transnational corporations, which see them only as mere suppliers of raw materials, extract oil, gold, and natural gas from them, and doom the peoples of Africa to wretched existence and hunger.”

Belarus and Equatorial Guinea see no alternatives to a fair multipolar world where all issues are resolved at the negotiating table through a candid, respectful and equal dialogue. “Despite the pressure and resistance of a number of major global players, the voice of Africa calling for such a world order sounds with a greater force. We see that the states of the African continent are growing more determined in their pursuit of an independent, sovereign, peace-loving policy, they are not looking back at the so-called ‘golden billion’ countries,” the Belarus president said.

Minsk has been consistently supporting this aspiration for many years, the head of state noted. Visits to Zimbabwe, top-level contacts with Egypt, plans to work with Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and a number of other states are a testimony to this.

Belarus’ difference from Western “democratizers”

“Unlike Western ‘democratizers’ Belarus is ready to help you be the masters of your land for the benefit of your own people by creating national manufacturing sector, modernizing agriculture, developing science and technologies. Working within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, together with Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union, we offer your country access to unique technologies, goods, and services,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

He remarked that for three decades Belarus has been dealing with the pressure of the West and is categorically opposed to any attempts at pressure. “Belarusians do not have colonial habits and do not try to impose anything on anyone. Minsk speaks in favor of a just, multipolar world and we go to Africa as friends. Our machines, vehicles, and technologies are known well on your continent. Many medics and engineers of yours have been trained in Belarusian universities. This is why we should not have any particular difficulties with establishing the dialogue. I am convinced we will not have,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

Promising avenues

The head of state stressed that independence and sovereignty of a country primarily stem from a strong economy while Belarus has experience and accomplishments to become an active participant of the social and economic flourishing of Africa and Africa’s final liberation from the yoke of former colonial powers.

As for Equatorial Guinea, Belarus is ready to help with the country’s industrialization, modernization of agriculture, with ensuring food security, with deliveries of a broad range of machines, vehicles, and equipment, other industrial and food products.

“We also have good competences in the construction of modern meat, dairy complexes and other processing complexes, in surveying and extracting natural resources, in realizing joint infrastructure projects. The humanitarian sphere offers a lot of opportunities for cooperation to us: science, culture, education, and tourism. Belarusian healthcare organizations can offer medical aid of the highest quality to your citizens. We can help you with medical personnel in order to train your citizens in the field of healthcare, education, and humanitarian areas. You know our accomplishments in the field of healthcare,” the head of state recounted promising avenues of cooperation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the interest of Belarus and Equatorial Guinea in each other is enormous. “The current situation in the world is pushing for more active interaction. I have already told my counterpart and friend that they will not leave in peace Equatorial Guinea, a relatively small country blessed with a great number of resources. The president agreed with me,” he said.

The Belarusian leader believes that in the modern world one must be strong to be able to protect their country and its interests. Cooperation with Belarus can be useful in this regard.

The key link for business ties

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the joint work of business circles and the national chambers of commerce and industry should become the key link for establishing and forming new stable business ties.

The president said: “The creation of a joint commission will be an important step for promoting all-round cooperation as a result of your visit. I suggest we should instruct the ministers of foreign affairs to organize the first session of the commission as soon as possible as co-chairpersons of the joint commission and determine concrete plans and projects, including by relying on our agreements. We are open to a dialogue about all the matters you are interested in. We are ready to discuss in detail any avenues of interaction and to fill it with real practical content.”

Plans to raise trade to $100 million

“We expect to achieve steady increase in trade turnover between our countries through joint efforts. We will try to exceed $100 million [trade turnover] in 2030,” the head of state said after negotiations.

A number of international documents were signed in the presence of the leaders of the two countries as a result of the talks. The documents included an intergovernmental framework agreement on economic, trade, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation, an agreement on visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic and service passports. The parties also signed agreements on cooperation in healthcare and education, a memorandum of understanding between the specialized agencies of the two countries on cooperation in agriculture. An agreement was also signed between the Culture Ministry of Belarus and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Craft Promotion of Equatorial Guinea.

“Today we have laid the groundwork for the future,” the Belarusian head of state assessed the meeting. “We have identified promising areas and directions of partnership development. We have agreed on practical steps to implement the agreements reached, agreed on exchange visits, outlined the legal framework, and set up a joint commission on economic cooperation.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked participants of the signing ceremony not to delay the implementation of the agreements that had been reached. Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that the parties will soon conclude new contracts and put millions of dollars into the treasury of relations.

“I am sure that with your personal support, Belarus and Equatorial Guinea will soon make progress in equipment supplies, agricultural industry modernization, and food security. We are ready to work together with you to achieve these targets. Moreover, we do not only offer you our products, we are also ready to buy products from your country. We need to cooperate, create joint ventures in your country and our country that will produce these goods. We need to go for deeper cooperation. We are ready for this. We can train your specialists to work at technologically advanced enterprises in Equatorial Guinea,” the head of state told the president of Equatorial Guinea.

There are plans to expand partnerships in the petrochemical sector and the mining industry, in education and personnel training, and healthcare, and to promote interpersonal contacts.

BEAUTY CONTEST. Who is the new Miss Belarus? What did the president gift to the girls?

The final stage of the national beauty contest Miss Belarus 2023 took place in the Sport Palace in Minsk on 8 September. As many as 24 girls competed for the title. Thousands of people from all over the country turned up to see the colorful show and certainly root for the contestants. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko was one of the spectators.

Many know the colorful expression that beauty is a terrible force. And it is even more terrible when outer beauty is accompanied by education, talent, impeccable taste and style, politeness, care for other people, and other qualities that people appreciate in each other. The panel of judges looked for an ideal like that among the contestants.

Eleonora Kachalovskaya won the Miss Belarus 2023 title. The girl is 23 years old. She works as a manager in the modeling agency in the National Beauty School. Her life motto is don't just walk past. This is how Eleonora met her best friend, a puppy named Tiger, which she picked up in the street.

An interview with BelTA the country’s most beautiful girl mentioned several facts about herself. She likes field flowers the most but it is important to gift the flowers from the bottom of one’s heart. She likes ice hockey and football as well as riding a bicycle. Eleonora Kachalovskaya also admitted that she is crazy about coffee. Her favorite day of the week is Monday. Her favorite dish is Belarusian draniki [potato pancakes].

By winning the contest, Eleonora Kachalovskaya received a cash prize, a piece of jewelry, a Geely car and an unexpected gift from the Information Ministry – a collection of works by the Belarusian classic poet and writer Yanka Kupala. The thing is the girls had to answer questions of prominent Belarusian women during the final stage of the contest. An artist from the Yanka Kupala Theater asked Eleonora who the author of the Paulinka play is. The girl was at a loss due to trepidation and could not answer the question.

After winning the coveted title Eleonora said: “I am now sad and upset because I failed to answer such a simple question. Honestly speaking, I am ashamed.” The new Miss Belarus promised to read the play and definitely come to the Yanka Kupala Theater to see the relevant performance.

The winner also said she experiences a huge feeling of gratitude to her country. She addressed her thanks personally to the Belarusian head of state: “Aleksandr Grigoryevich [Lukashenko], thank you for giving simple girls like me an opportunity to become part of this fairy-tale.” Eleonora Kachalovskaya assured that she will bear the title with pride and honesty for the next two years.

A special gift from the president – evening gowns – was an excellent addition to the gala night for all the participants of the contest. The girls put them on when they had to come out onto the stage.

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