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Belarus President's State of the Nation Address 2016: Main foreign political and economic points

President Alexander Lukashenko on April 21 delivered the State of the Nation Address to the Belarusian people and the Belarus Parliament. The CTV offers you the main points voiced by the head of state.

The President instructed the government to prepare by July 1 the state program of innovative development

Alexander Lukashenko believes the National Academy of Sciences and High Technology Park are the most important components in the innovation strategy.

Alexander Lukashenko also noted that the efficiency of innovative development institutions - the National Academy of Sciences, the High-Tech Park, the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park and other industrial parks - must be constantly monitored by the country's leadership. 

The current year must be crucial in overcoming the negative trends in economy.

The President outlined the priorities in reducing enterprises production costs

According to Alexander Lukashenko, most important now is to reduce all types of costs of production and sales. "This is a strategic direction of improving the competitiveness of the economy. It applies to every position, technological area, plant, agricultural company, region and industry. I want to emphasize that the authorities are tasked with reducing costs by at least 25%. And it must be done," he said.

The President explained that Belarus needs to put emphasis on good management practices, use of modern quality standards and technological regulations.  "Once again study the issue of reducing non-production costs, give up investments, that will not bring return in the near future," Alexander Lukashenko stated.

The President demands to step up de-dollarization of economy

"It is necessary to intensify the process of de-dollarization of the economy and much has been done in this regard. When people trust their national currency they thus support the national economy." The head of state emphasized that the de-dollarization is not possible without a change of psychology of people.

Government and National Bank need to ensure macroeconomic stability in the country after redenomination.

"The dictatorship of the quality" should be a measure of professionalism during production process

"Product quality is the most important component of competitiveness," said Alexander Lukashenko. According to him, quality demands are low and industry standards are falling behind the best international practices.

Also, the head of state stressed that "green" industry should be one of the new points of economic growth. "We are talking about the new safety standards of product quality. This means diversification of our exports and ability to enter the markets of developed countries and attract investment in the future," noted the President.

Every job cut must be replaced with new and more productive job

"I have already said that if MAZ, BelAZ, MTZ and other works are going to optimize the number of workers, then the managers and chiefs of local authorities need to find another job for the person who lost this job.  In these matters, the government, the governors and the whole vertical of power needs to be proactive," said the Belarusian leader.

The President recalled that the task to create 50,000 jobs every year is a minimum requirement. 

"Remember that jobs are not created for reports, this is done for the people. Another aspect of the problem. While new jobs are being created, you need to provide conditions for people's self-employment. Today, the situation on the labor market is quite volatile, and we need to quickly react to it," the head of state summed up.

The President considers it necessary to give a new impetus and meaning to import substitution

Alexander Lukashenko noted that the key performance parameter of the government's work in this area is an increase in the production of import substituting goods by at least $600 million annually.

The IMF loan program is not panacea but an indicator of the Belarusian economy's openness

A great investment potential lies in cooperation with international financial organizations. "This opens the door for many large investors. Special attention is required when it comes to the development of cooperation with the International Monetary Fund," the President stressed.

According to Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian side must talk with the IMF defending its interests, "arguing, talking and asking for being understood during the negotiation process." 

Belarus Government was instructed to make investment legislation clearer by 1 September

"The main incentive for investment is a set of clear and understandable rules and laws, which everyone complies with: both our domestic and foreign investors. But if there are some laws that hinder investment attraction process, it is necessary to react quickly and adapt flexibly to changing the real situation," said the Belarusian leader.

The President demands to remove bureaucratic barriers to involve in economy funds of international financial organizations.

Belarus needs at least $1.5 billion of foreign investment to ensure economic growth

"This year, Belarus needs to raise at least $1.5 billion of foreign direct investment on a net basis for the restoration of economic growth. This amout of money will help us replace the missing internal resources with external sources," said the head of state. He noted that China is one of the world's largest investors in the world now. "China opened a credit line for Belarus worth $8 billion and promised the amount we need in the future if we find use for this money now," he said.

“Our country is particularly interested in the creation of an extensive and fair security system in this vast and, unfortunately, potentially explosion-prone region,” the head of state noted. In this regard, Belarus is taking measures in order to strengthen the defensive potential of the country, including at the interstate level. “We are not involved in saber rattling. No. We are seriously creating a modern defensive complex of our country. By the way, it is the Belarusian army that is part of the regional defensive system of Belarus and Russia in the western direction,” the Belarus President added.

Belarus would like to create a security system in the Eurasian region

Globally, this aim is achieved thanks to the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty. The enhanced combat readiness of the Collective Rapid Response Forces allows tackling such challenges as international terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal migration and organized crime. Alexander Lukashenko said that taking into account the aggravated situation in CIS and beyond, Belarus is made to increase its defensive potential in order not to find itself a defenseless target in a local military conflict.

He called the adoption this year of a new edition of the Military Doctrine of Belarus a milestone in enhancing the state’s defensive capabilities. “The doctrine clearly defines the peaceful character of our foreign policy. However, the document underlines that in case we run out of non-military capabilities to defend our nation, we are ready to resort to the use of military force against foreign aggression and against a local armed conflict,” the President noted.

In order to counter the threats of hybrid wars or “color revolutions”, Belarus has created special operations forces and developed a system of territorial defense forces. The President added that an internal conflict in Belarus is possible only after the involvement of some outside forces. “Therefore, we tell our Armed Force that its primary task is to counteract such internal conflicts,” the President added.

The head of state noted that the Military Doctrine pays special attention to the development of defense industry as the hi-tech sector of the economy is designed to not only satisfy demands of the military in modern arms and special equipment but also boost exports. “The main task of all law-enforcement agencies is to ensure the security of our Motherland, its territorial integrity and constitutional order, constantly maintain order and peace necessary for the sustainable development and peaceful life of the people,” the President underlined.

Belarus deems partnership with China vital, counts on equal dialogue with the West

The comprehensive strategic partnership between Belarus and Great China is vital in the implementation of the multi-vector foreign policy. Now the agenda includes the implementation of a number of mutually beneficial agreements and specific projects, the President noted. Referring to relations and dialogue with the West, Alexander Lukashenko stressed that this dialogue should be equal. "In cooperation with the West, we are interested primarily in investment, technology transfer, the creation of innovative joint products and participation of Belarusian companies in international production chains," said the President.

It is essential to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines in the European region. The relationship between the EU and the EEU should not be mutually exclusive but complementary, stressed Alexander Lukashenko. The President noted that the history of Belarus knows many negative examples when it found itself in the midst of such divisions.

The President called on Parliament to strengthen positions in the international arena

The head of state noted that it is necessary to maintain ties with the Russian Federation and its regions at the same time enhancing cooperation with parliamentarians of the countries of Europe, Southeast Asia, America and Africa. "The result of these events must lead to increased political image of Belarus, and the active promotion of the economic interests of our country," said Alexander Lukashenko.

The President also stressed that MPs of the House of Representatives and members of the Council of the Republic need to listen to all the problems of voters. "Each issue raised needs to be dealt with and one should find out a solution. It is in this way that credibility and respect of citizens can be gained. But this does not mean that you need to solve the problems that must be solved by executive authorities. But you are the most active people, people who see these problems... You must put bring them before the relevant authorities if you are not in position to solve this particular issue," said the head of state.

Belarus can and should play a more active and important role in world politics

The President stressed that Belarus is not eager to play a more active and important role in world politics. "Many world powers demand that we do, some just ask" said Alexander Lukashenko. "Today, Belarus is a security support in the region. It does not have any conflicts based on religion or on ethnic grounds. We have never created and will not create troubles for our neighbors," the leader underscored adding that the multi-vector foreign policy is still the basic principle of Belarus.

CIS needs to be upgraded and kept as international organization

The President referred to the negative trends in the Commonwealth of Independent States: the number of members is reducing, the relationship between some countries are aggravated, as evidenced by the recent conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. There have even been proposals to abolish the CIS. But the President called on everyone to modernize that international organization.

The President also touched on domestic social and economic policy as well as mentioned priorities for the further development of culture and sport. 

Belarus President's State of the Nation Address 2016: Main points