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Opinions & Interviews

9 Oct 2018

Lukashenko on friendship with UN Secretary-General and common roots with his deputy

Lukashenko on friendship with UN Secretary-General and common roots with his deputy

MINSK, 9 October (BelTA) – During the meeting with Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko spoke about his friendship with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and common roots with his deputy Vladimir Voronkov on 9 October, BelTA has learned.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that he was surprised to learn that Vladimir Voronkov’s father (famous Soviet historian specializing in Slavic studies, professor at Moscow State University Ivan Voronkov) was born in the village of Rzhavtsy, Shklov District. “Your father was born in the place where I spent my childhood years and where I walked, sometimes barefoot, when I was in charge of some organizations. I know this village very well. It is very close from the place where I worked, literally several kilometers. I know that you are going there,” the president noted.

He said that he is glad that Vladimir Voronkov has plans to visit the native land of his father. “Give my best regards to our native land. Do not forget it, come to visit. Though there are no manufacturing or agricultural companies there, it is a very promising and nice little village. Now I know that the outstanding Slavic scholar – your father – stems from there. It is very personal. While preparing for this meeting I discovered that we have common roots (unfortunately, I did not know it before),” Alexander Lukashenko said.

He asked to convey the best and most cordial wishes to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “We have brilliant, very friendly relations. We trust each other. Give him best regards from Belarus. Due to the fact that we know each other, probably all Belarusians already know about Antonio Guterres not just from news reports. He is an interesting person. I believe he is open-minded, kind-hearted and sincere,” the head of state emphasized.

The president thanked Vladimir Voronkov for his substantial contribution to the organization of the international high-level conference “Preventing and Countering Terrorism in the Digital Age" in Minsk. “You are one of the organizers of this conference. You spearhead efforts to address this issue. The conference would not be so successful without your contribution,” the Belarusian leader noted.

He thanked Vladimir Voronkov for his decision to visit Minsk and told him about Minsk improvement program, its architectural design, and the work to offer more leisure opportunities to local residents and tourists. By way of contrast he cited Moscow and the adjacent area. “It is a giant city for me. Very massive, overbuilt, with traffic jams. Seeing that, I do not want to agglomerate entire Belarus in Minsk. Not only Moscow but also the entire area around it are heavily built. I want to avoid it. In fact, inside the ring road you can see a great number of fields that are used for farming. This is done for people. It is important, because people should be able to see not only skyscrapers and buildings from glass or reinforced concrete,” Alexander Lukashenko said giving his take on architectural matters.

Alexander Lukashenko reiterated that he is happy to meet with Vladimir Voronkov not only because he is a major international functionary but also because they have common roots.

For his part, Vladimir Voronkov said that this day is very emotional for him. “I have not been to Belarus for the last seven years. I spent my childhood years in the village of Rzhavtsy, Shklov District. Running barefoot, gathering hay, harvesting potatoes, doing farmer’s work. I can't say that I really liked it back then but it was part of my life. The love for these things came later. Farmer’s work is hard to like. But when you see that you create results with your own hands, this shapes the philosophy of your whole life,” he said.

“I still do these things. Therefore I know about it first hand,” Alexander Lukashenko said in response.

Vladimir Voronkov expressed his intention to visit the place his father hails from and where he spent a lot of time as a kid. “Rzhavtsy, Shklov, Alexandria, Kopys, Orsha... These are the towns and places that I saw in my childhood and that were always very nice to visit. Because hospitality of the family and friends is unique, something that distinguishes Belarusian people. I remember my roots. My father spent much of his life in Belarus. And while he was alive, we would come to visit his native land every year. Now I will have an opportunity to refresh my memories,” the UN under-secretary-general said.

He also said that he will be happy to convey greetings to Antonio Guterres. “It is not because he is my boss, but because I see how Antonio works, how he relates to people. I fully share your assessment that he is a wonderful man with very big political thinking, with understanding of the world. He is a very big supporter of multilateral approaches to world order, which is very important during these times,” Vladimir Voronkov said.

Vladimir Voronkov is visiting Belarus to participate in the high-level international conference “Preventing and Countering Terrorism in the Digital Age" in Minsk on 9-10 October.

The UN Counter-Terrorism Office was established through the adoption of a General Assembly resolution on 15 June 2017. As suggested by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Counterterrorism Implementation Task Force and the UN Counter-Terrorism Center, initially established in the Department of Political Affairs were moved into a new - Counter-Terrorism Office headed by an Under-Secretary-General.

The UN Counter-Terrorism Office provides leadership on the GA counter-terrorism mandates; enhances coordination and coherence across the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities to ensure the balanced implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy; strengthens the delivery of UN counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to member states; and improves visibility, advocacy and resource mobilization for UN counter-terrorism efforts.

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