The Belarus President is studying the state of affairs on his own - this is his peculiarity. An important public meeting (like the old plenums) will be devoted to agriculture. Alexander Lukashenko said this during the week during his annual state of the nation address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly.
The address is a key policy document for the near future. This is like a handbook for the authorities at all levels and an outlining of priorities for people. The outer world also listened to the address carefully.
Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
Our merit is that Belarus remains an island of peace, tranquility and order. Thank God that today the fate of our country is not decided through wars or revolutions. Our future is in another, peaceful field - economy.
The President spoke about the main events of the year, praised the work of officials and touched on the topics of inflation, housing construction, and international politics.
People are worried about rising prices. Well, you know that price rises are due to Mr Kobyakov's decisions. We ourselves constantly inflate prices meaning that people do not pay fully for utilities, that food prices are too low... We are also weeping that our energy sector does not receive enough and this is when modernization is underway. And so on and so forth! We need to stop this. Our prices are almost under control. That's all. You saw the end of that year and beginning of this year. We did not create any structures to tame those who wanted too much. We did not organize campaigns in the media against those companies. We acted calmly and quietly. We took those prices under control.
The President paid attention to the fact that the country needs to export more, with embassies and companies both having responsibility in this area. After all, demand from traditional partners (Russia and Ukraine) has fallen.
We need to compensate for the decline of our sales in Russia and Ukraine by the expansion of supplies to other countries. But it is impossible to reduce the activity of promoting our products to traditional markets. Take Russia for instance. Go to reach each region and use every opportunity. This also applies to the post-Soviet space as a whole.
You know, we just recently returned from Georgia. Well, what did we know about Georgia? The war took place, a poor country, there is nothing there. But we were mistaken. The country is developing, moving forward, the turnover is now at $65 million. And Mr Rusyi managed to sign contacts and memoranda worth more than 200 million dollars. It took only 1.5 days. The question is: where had we been before?
Belarus has something to offer to many countries. Take high-tech goods: from space technology to the export of medical services.
It turns out that all Belarusians can make good products! At the nuclear power plant, 85% of the staff are Belarusians! Russians say: "They are super specialists who can do everything." Inspectors from Russia and the IAEA have no complaints. This means we can do it well.
Today, our space companies are full of orders. They ask me to come to them but not for money. They ask for lands. They want to build new factories and other facilities. Well, it is nice to listen to these people.
Alexander Lukashenko joked a lot during the address. Between the lines, one could read anything but the meaning of everything said in the Oval Hall that day was that staff is one of the most important aspects of the state's life. There should be only professionals on the top positions.
Our state apparatus is the smallest in the post-Soviet space and probably in the world. I can agree with this. But there are still too many people in it. So decide how many civil servants we really need. And cut another 10%. And we will give a decent salary to the remaining people. They will also receive the status of civil servants.
Speaking about culture, the head of state said there is a lack of simple and clear movies for the people. These should be made by Belarusians and for Belarusians.
Special attention was paid to health. The country boasts maximum availability of modern medicine for everyone. The market is saturated with quality drugs, including domestic ones. However, such health threats as alcohol abuse and drug trafficking are still in place. The passive way of life is another enemy of well-being.
The head of state noted that paid healthcare will not be introduced in the near future but the issue is still under consideration.
Speaking about relations with Russia, the Belarus President stressed: "We are brothers but we want to live in a separate apartment."
We were together and will always be. We have our own point of view. And we must understand that we are a sovereign and independent state. We are closely linked with Russia and the Russian people. We are brothers. But we want to live in our apartment in this high-rise building. Even the closest brothers want to have their own corner. And if someone believes (not only in Russia but also in other places) that can be deprived of this, they are mistaken! This will never happen. Never! We are a sovereign, independent state and we don't create problems to anyone.
Of course, the head of state assessed the situation in Ukraine.
The main thing is that the war today is not there, on the Golan Heights or in Libya. This is war near us. And we are already involved in it. Belarusians already fight on one side or the other. But we don't approve of this. For now we are talking about only several people. If someone wants to die for $10,000, for God's sake: go and fight. But the war will be over. And these militants will return home. Who will they be? I am worried about it. Secondly, I do not want Belarusians to go there and die. This would mean the expansion and escalation of the conflict, I do not want it. In short, this hot spot has already become our danger. So I'm doing everything to prevent this escalation. This is the most important thing.
In an interview with Bloomberg I said: "I do not know Americans' purpose in this war. But I guess. And I said that the United States perhaps benefit from that conflict. Russia will be distracted by it and other world centers will pay a lot of attention. If so, I said, enter into a peace process and do everything to ensure peace there. If you really want this peace...
The speech was actively discussed by experts and politicians. Including in the studio of the new talk show "What's happening?", which the TV channel "RTR-Belarus" aired on Thursday.
Igor Marzalyuk, deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus:
The most important for me was the word sovereignty of the country. Sovereignty is impossible without strong economic, modernized education system and social and cultural policy. These are basics for a civilized society today.
Georgy Grits, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Scientific and Industrial Association:
Business is always a little bit critical to any government. First, the President admitted, and it is quite an honest position, that there are problems in the economy today. And it is not just a statement. He mentioned about the "hot spots" about which the business has always said. Again, this is tax policy, ie a moratorium on taxes, which the President promised to abide by the following year, the number of checks, macroeconomic stability, where businesses are a priori hostages of the exchange rate (if we remember last year). But for businesses, it is very important that the authorities understand "pain points" and the fact that they are a threat, including to sovereignty. Now the government might make a kind of a roadmap to realize all this. In the short term.
Sergei Pigarev, deputy chairman of the RPA "Belaya Rus":
The message was extremely compact. I listened to it keenly. I looked at our leader from a new perspective. I think everyone was surprised by the leader's sense of humor.
Oleg Gaydukevich, first deputy chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party:
Of course, the head of state openly and honestly talked about the challenges and problems facing our state and society. But he also said one important thing that I remembered: the Belarusian society should be united. It must be united now, when everything is "raging" around Belarus. And now the most important thing is to be united and to think about how to make our country sovereign, independent and prosperous, regardless of political differences and political opinions. That is what I think was the most important.