Official Minsk has always openly and honestly co-operated with Russia. This was underlined by Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting with the governor of the Kursk region, Russia. Now the delegation of the Russian region are in Belarus.
Belarus and Kursk enterprises are united in a single production chain. Joint production of Belarusian trolleybuses has started in the Kursk region. There is a desire to expand industrial cooperation, too.
In the morning, the delegation of the Kursk region came to Minsk's Victory Square. That was a solemn and symbolic moment. 70 years ago, the fraternal peoples fought shoulder to shoulder against Nazi invaders. Memory of the victims during that terrible war was observed with a minute of silence.
Natalia Breus, CTV:
Alexander Lukashenko often meets with the heads of the Russian regions. But it is with the Kursk region with which Belarus enjoys perhaps the most active and advanced dialogue. It is not surprising, because the head of the Kursk region came to Minsk four times. This is the way of direct promotion of goods and better understanding of joint projects.
The governor of the Kursk region has been in office for 15 years.
Back in the early 2000s, he started to build direct economic bridges with Belarus, for the benefit of both sides. Alexander Lukashenko has always supported the idea of close cooperation with Russian regions.
Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
You know our attitude towards Russian regions. I have often talked about it, paying tribute to the regions that it is only you who saved relations between Russia and Belarus. Without you, there would not be such cooperation with you at the highest level, there would be no inter-regional cooperation program "Belarusian-Russian regions". I know you are one of the most sincere Russians, who appreciates Belarus, knows that without the cooperation between Belarus and Russia. We are siblings, God said we should be together and build our integration relationship in this way. You know that we have never been dishonest with Russians. If we decided that this would be the Union, we are doing everything to build this military-political and economic union. We are doing it openly and honestly.
Dialogue with the leadership of the region is one of the most productive.
Despite the difficult economic situation the trade between Belarus and Kursk region has grown and reached $250 million.
The figure is comparable with the volume of trade with some post-Soviet republics. The products involved are very different: from appliances to food.
Alexander Mikhailov, governor of Kursk region of the Russian Federation:
We once, in 2002, when signing the agreement, said it would be nice to hit a trade of $100 million. Today, the figure we have should be higher. We see an increasing number of enterprises and our institutions of higher education who would like to participate in bilateral contacts and cooperate to develop these relations further.
Belarus and Kursk enterprises are united in a single production chain. Since 2010, they have been jointly producing Belarusian trolleybuses in the Kursk region. These are low floor models. There is a desire to expand industrial cooperation.
Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
You know that our vehicles are competitive. We have done a lot in recent history upgrading our old trolleybuses and streetcars. Therefore, this project is alive, it exists. We still have a lot of areas where we need to connect and engage our forces to increase the effectiveness of our work. There are many promising proposals and we are ready to discuss them with you.
The Kursk region is among the top five in the agro-industrial complex of Russia. In 2014, it harvested more than 4 million tons of grain. Therefore, Belarus' deliveries of agricultural machinery in this area are promising. These may be tractors or combines. In pursuit of harvest, all means are good.
Ground for cooperation is more than fertile. For example, the scientific and practical agriculture center. Our Research Center is developing new varieties of crops, including for Russia.
The chief researcher, doctor of agricultural sciences Stanislav Grib, explains that the scheme is simple: Belarus creates a sample and the Kursk side tests it. Over the five years, several selections have proven to be great.
Mr Grib says that the breed called Darya is very appreciated in Russia.
Another tidbit for Russian colleagues is our genetic bank. It has almost 50,000 kinds of cereals.
This fact implies a higher chance of getting a super fertile breed. This fact is appreciated in Kursk. Belarusian biotechnologies help scientists improve grain's resistance to cold. Consequently, yields are higher.
Early in the morning the delegation visited Minsk Automobile Plant. This was an opportunity to look for Belarusian vehicles. Talks continued in the Government. Though work with the Kursk region started long ago, this is clearly not the limit. In the Council of Ministers, the sides signed a package of documents. They cover all aspects of cooperation for the next 2 years.
The delegation left Belarus with an impressive package of documents. Now the question is: will all the agreements be implemented as planned?