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Opinions & Interviews

3 Oct 2019

Call for stronger non-discriminatory Belarus-Russia economic ties

Call for stronger non-discriminatory Belarus-Russia economic ties

MINSK, 3 October (BelTA) – Belarus and Russia will both benefit from strengthening mutually beneficial and non-discriminatory trade and economic relations, BelTA learned from Vladimir Zakharchuk, Deputy Head of the Department for Russia of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statement was made at the consultations of the Association of Young Diplomats of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Young Diplomats of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which are underway in Minsk.

Vladimir Zakharchuk stressed that he represents the department which is responsible for bilateral relations between Belarus and Russia, including interregional relations. These matters are also on the agenda of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. “At present, this topic is a priority in the Belarusian-Russian relations and is discussed at various levels both in Belarus and Russia,” Vladimir Zakharchuk said.

He pointed out that Belarus and Russia have long-term ties in all fields. The countries have engaged in a close bilateral dialogue in political, economic, social, humanitarian, environmental, information, science and innovation spheres. The presidents, ministers and parliament speakers of the two states meet on a regular basis. Belarus and Russia encourage contacts between their bodies within joint commissions and cross-sectoral working groups as well as between regions and economic entities.

“Belarus’ and Russia’s stances on the main problems of the modern world mostly coincide, the countries support each other within the most prominent international organizations like the UN, the OSCE, and so on. We are jointly developing such integration associations as the Union State, the CIS, the CSTO, and the EAEU,” Vladimir Zakharchuk noted.

According to him, economy is traditionally one of the main areas of the bilateral relations. “Russia accounts for over 50% of Belarus’ foreign trade while Belarus occupies the fourth position among Russia’s trade partners in terms of trade volume. This is why Belarus and Russia will both benefit from supporting the development and strengthening mutually beneficial and non-discriminatory trade and economic relations,” Vladimir Zakharchuk said.

He also spoke at length about interregional cooperation which entered a new stage in recent years, partially thanks to the annual Forum of Regions of Belarus and Russia. “At the 6th Forum of Regions which was held in Saint Petersburg in July 2019, partners from Belarus and Russia signed more than 80 cooperation agreements and contracts worth over $500 million. All in all, at present Belarusian regions cultivate direct trade and economic relations with 80 regions of Russia which are based on intergovernmental agreements on long-term cooperation,” Vladimir Zakharchuk noted.

In December, the countries will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Union State Treaty. “During this period, we have created a unique form of cooperation in the post-Soviet space which was a prototype of Eurasian integration. We have achieved considerable success in ensuring equal rights of Belarusian and Russian citizens in economic activities, education and healthcare, employment, choosing a place of stay and a place of residence,” Vladimir Zakharchuk reminded. “The Union State budget finances programs in the energy industry, information technology, the space industry, healthcare, agriculture, border security, and programs to overcome consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe.”

According to Vladimir Zakharchuk, systemic and comprehensive cooperation between the diplomatic services of the two countries contributes greatly to the development of the bilateral cooperation in general. In order to coordinate joint efforts in the global political arena, the Belarusian and Russian foreign ministers adopt programs of concerted action in foreign policy. Plans are in place to sign such a program for 2020-2021 at the upcoming joint board meeting of the two foreign ministries in November.

Vladimir Zakharchuk believes that regular consultations between government agencies are an important mechanism of the interministerial dialogue. “Today we face new challenges, growing threats, and escalation of tensions in the world. This is why foreign ministries should uphold the historical tradition of mutual support,” he said.

It is important that Belarus and Russia should support each other and cooperate in all areas, said Konstantin Kolpakov, Chairman of the Council of Young Diplomats of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He spoke about activities of the Council of Young Diplomats. Konstantin Kolpakov believes that young diplomats will soon be responsible for making important decisions in foreign policy. He also announced the upcoming Global Forum of Young Diplomats which will be held in Moscow in November and put forward the idea to set up the EAEU Association of Young Diplomats.

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