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Opinions & Interviews

28 Sep 2020

Matviyenko: Russia and Belarus maintain high cooperation rates despite pandemic

Matviyenko: Russia and Belarus maintain high cooperation rates despite pandemic

MOSCOW, 28 September (BelTA-TASS) – Belarus and Russia maintain high cooperation rates despite the pandemic which has affected the intensity of contacts, Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Valentina Matviyenko said in her interview to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.

“Although the situation with the coronavirus has affected the intensity of our contacts, took some of them into online format, we still maintain high rates of interaction. For some regions we can see the interesting statistics. In 2019, Leningrad Oblast increased trade with Belarus by 36% year-on-year. Orenburg Oblast has been actively increasing its trade with Belarus. There is interest and need for contacts,” Valentina Matviyenko said.

According to last year's data, Smolensk, Kaluga, Leningrad, Samara and Voronezh oblasts were the most active actors in developing trade and economic relations with Belarus. According to the chairwoman of the Federation Council, at the 7th Forum of Regions of Russia and Belarus, which is to open on 28 September, plans are in place to conclude agreements with Leningrad, Samara and Kursk oblasts, Bashkortostan, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District and other regions.

Valentina Matviyenko also noted that this year the forum bears particular relevance and is real progress in the development of relations between the two countries. “I am sure that the decisions of the forum will contribute to the restoration of the level and further development of the Russian-Belarusian economic relations. Of course, we want it to happen faster. That is why a lot of representatives of the subjects of the Russian Federation and people engaged in business are taking part in the work of the forum,” she added.

When asked about the impact of the political situation in Belarus on the event, the chairwoman of the Federation Council said that ‘those who are busy with their own work do not have time to fall under its (political context) influence’. “I can say that in the process of preparation for the forum, no one saw in contacts between businessmen, heads of regions that their intention to work was somehow affected by street protests in Minsk, statements of European parliamentarians or video from Lithuania. We have every reason to predict that the upcoming forum will be successful,” Valentina Matviyenko emphasized.

The two-day Forum of Regions of Russia and Belarus opens on Monday, and will be held via videoconference. The theme of the forum is Historical Heritage of the Great Victory as a Basis for the Development of Social, Economic and Spiritual Ties between the Peoples of Belarus and Russia.

The first Belarusian-Russian regional forum was held in Minsk in 2014. Since then the forum has been hosted by Sochi, Minsk, Moscow, Mogilev and St. Petersburg. The theme of the event which took place in St. Petersburg in July 2019 was interregional ties as the basis for the formation of a common cultural and humanitarian space. As a result of the six forums the parties signed 302 agreements on cooperation and the amount of commercial contracts reached $2 billion. At the previous forum, which was held with the participation of the presidents of the two countries, the two countries signed more than 60 contracts for almost $500 million.

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Great Patriotic War monuments in Belarus