Official Website of the Republic of Belarus
Belarus Events Calendar
Belarus’ Top Tourist Sites
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belarus
Belarusian sanatoria and health resorts
Souvenirs from Belarus
| Home | News | Opinions & Interviews

Opinions & Interviews

30 Aug 2018

Surikov on his work in Belarus, plans for future

Surikov on his work in Belarus, plans for future

MINSK, 30 August (BelTA) – Outgoing Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov talked about his work in Belarus and shared his plans for the future as he talked to the media, BelTA has learned.

According to the diplomat, the countries have largely succeeded in creating and improving the basic conditions for rapprochement of the two peoples. “We are the peoples of the same Slavic roots. All opponents of the Union State should understand that there are no closer peoples than Russia and Belarus, by all parameters. This is something we should proceed from,” he said.

On principles of work

Alexander Surikov noted that, naturally, ambassadors do not act on their own but represent the interests of their states. However, he stressed that the most important principle is the rapprochement of peoples. “It is all the more true for Russia and Belarus. There have been attempts (and these attempts continue) to divide our brotherhood, to cause a split. Our task is to prevent that from happening in the first place, and, if possible, to enhance the rapprochement. In many ways it is key to the well-being and security of our states, to better lives of our peoples. This is the main principle. We (the embassies) are not the first violins. It is civil societies and governments,” the diplomat said.

He stressed that any ambassador must foster further interaction between peoples of Russia and Belarus, minimize all arising contradictions and hiccups in the economy, promote the integration of the two fraternal peoples.

On European vector in relations

When asked whether, in his view, Belarus’ policy has recently become somewhat pro-European, the Ambassador said: “I look at these things with a touch of humor. What position does Russian policy take? Towards rapprochement with the West, including with the United States. We live in a globalized world. We hold the same position. And we do not oppose. We just observe how relations between Belarus and the West are developing. This is a general trend in the world. You cannot be out of step. They are your neighbors, ours too.”

“This is a general trend. Successes may not always be there. But I'm sure they will come anyway. Because we are neighbors. We live on the same continent,” Alexander Surikov said.

On Union State brand

The Ambassador noted that the Union State of Belarus and Russia is the most close-knit integration association in the CIS and has not lost its relevance even as the Eurasian Economic Union has been set up. It is because The Union State has created a level playing field for citizens of the two countries. There is close cooperation in many areas

“Therefore, we need to develop the Union State brand. Maybe we should look at the treaty in terms of the relevance of certain positions and adjust some things. And, probably, it is necessary to give the Union State some legal aspect. Today the Eurasian Economic Union is a subject of international law while the Union State is not. We need to think about giving it a legal status,’ Alexander Surikov said.

On plans for the future

“I really worked a lot. In any case, I am happy to be going back home. It's a sure thing. There is, of course, a tinge of sadness. I am leaving the society to which I have grown accustomed for the last twelve and a half years. I, however, have not parted with Russia either. But I have spent more time here and got used to benevolence, kindness and respect,” the diplomat said.

Alexander Surikov noted that he has children and grandchildren, and he now intends to spend more time with the family. However, he is ready to help, to provide advice on a voluntary basis, without a salary. “I have work experience of somewhat 60 years,” he said.

He also noted that he has not purchased any property in Minsk and Belarus though he had such an opportunity. “I do not like large bustling cities. I will live in Siberia. I grew up there, my entire family lives there. So will I,” Alexander Surikov said.

On Belarus’ president

Ahead of the meeting with the press Alexander Surikov met with Belarusian head of state Alexander Lukashenko. “We had a good conversation, recalled many things that happened in over my 12-year diplomatic tenure here. I am grateful for the president’s high appreciation of my work. I also congratulated him on his birthday. It was a good, heart-to-heart talk,” the ambassador shared the details of his meeting with the president.

When asked to express his opinion of the Belarusian leader, Alexander Surikov noted that Alexander Lukashenko is a strong and experienced leader. “The major task on his agenda is to ensure that every person in the country has a job. This is worth a lot. Our planet today is a world of business where the main thing is profit, not a person. This is a significant difference. I think that the Belarusian society should be grateful to its president for such view on life,” the ambassador said.

On new Ambassador Mikhail Babich

Alexander Surikov stated that Russia’s new Ambassador to Belarus Mikhail Babich is not a career diplomat. He is a specialist from a different field. Alexander Surikov added that he does not know Mikhail Babich in person. “I believe, however, that he will come and prove his worth,” the diplomat said.

As for Mikhail Babich’s status of the Russian President’s special representative for trade and economic cooperation, Alexander Surikov said that this is about Russia in the first place. “This is the Russian status. Here, in Belarus, he is an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary,” Alexander Surikov said.

On the goal of $50 billion in mutual trade

“Russia and Belarus have a huge trade turnover. It is an extremely complicated and very important task. The real bilateral trade stands at $35.36 billion today. I view the goal of reaching $50 billion as 1.6 million new jobs, which means new manufacturing capacities. I think this will be the main thing for Mikhail Babich in his mission in Belarus,” the ambassador said.

According to Alexander Surikov, the main way to achieve the goal is to continue the integration of economies, development of joint manufacturing capacities. He cited an example of MAZ and KamAZ which compete with each other in certain lines of equipment: “If they put in efforts and unite their capacities and knowledge, they will be able to double the production output.”

The ambassador believes that the same is true about other sectors as well. The most important thing is not an exchange of assets in industry, but the launch of new manufacturing facilities, the creation of jobs, the improvement of people's lives. “There is enough experience worldwide, including clusters, joint ventures and so on,” he said.

On disagreements in bilateral relations

Alexander Surikov said that there are practically no acute issues in the political relations between Belarus and Russia. All disputes arise mainly in the trade and economic sector. “If we look at it simply, we will see that this is a dispute between a seller and a buyer. It is a usual story. This is business after all,” he said.

The diplomat stated that public opinion is sometimes negatively affected by the fact that political circles, the authorities are involved in resolving those disputes. “These issues should be addressed in courts. We have become closer in a political sense. We have no unbridgeable political difficulties. In relation to economics, however, we need to learn to speak the language of economic law,” he said.

Alexander Surikov stressed that disputes between partners are inevitable, but they need to be solved in a calm working manner.

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
Great Patriotic War monuments in Belarus