The 5th All-Belarusian People's Assembly opened in Minsk June 22. This is the most democratic way of democracy. Journalists pick different epithets and comparisons for the forum. But the Belarus President explains it simply and clearly. He speaks about the purpose of the meeting itself and the people taking part in it.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
Human and civil rights to participate in managing the affairs of state is an essential requirement of the time. The activity with which the country's people were involved in the preparation and holding of staff meetings at work and in universities once again proved that our Congress is an effective mechanism of democracy. I believe that our motto "Together for a strong and prosperous Belarus" symbolizes the continuity and cohesion of society for the sake of our homeland. We appreciate public opinion, wishes and productive ideas that are aimed at the progressive development of the country in economic, social and cultural fields. Belarusians want to maintain peace and tranquility in the country, they are set to constructive work for the sake of their future and the future of the younger generation. The main purpose of the forum is to discuss topical issues of our lives, to consider at the nationwide level the existing problems and come to a consolidated opinion of strategic objectives and plans of economic development for the new five-year period.
The forum coincided with the 75th anniversary of the start of the Great Patriotic War in Belarus in 1941. This is why the President requested to observe a minute of silence to commemorate the victims.
One-third of Belarus' population died and perished after being wounded. It took us a long time to make up for the terrible losses. Our compatriots perished for our sake, so that we value today's peace and beauty. Let us be grateful to the heirs of the Victory and honor the memory of all the victims with a minute of silence.
Mankind has not learned the lessons of the Second World War. Therefore, Belarusians, who emphasize their peacefulness even in the national anthem, have to fight for peace.
The main lesson is that any, even the biggest trouble, can be overcome, but this can be done only if we are together. Another important lesson is given to us by the past. You cannot be careless and overconfident. You cannot treat the future lightly. You cannot afford to be caught napping, as it was in those years. You must be able to anticipate and avert the danger in time. The path from peace to war could be very short. The unity of the people, mobilization of all its forces is what one needs not only to survive in hard times, but also to prevent its coming, to preserve peace in the country and to save the country itself. In this regard, we attach particular importance to state defense and security. We have developed and adopted the National Security Concept and the new edition of the Military Doctrine. They formulate the basic objectives and activities to meet modern threats and challenges. I emphasize: the main thing for our country is the peace-loving multi-vector foreign policy.
On the eve of the All-Belarusian Assembly we triumphantly tested our Polonez system. This is the defensive weapon that discourages anyone from offensive plans.
Our scientists, together with organizations of the defense sector, have developed and successfully tested (in a densely populated Belarus, not in desert ranges) the multiple rocket launch system Polonez, which corresponds to the best world standards of precision weapons. This is our domestic system. This suggests that Belarus has created a new promising direction - rocket science and the manufacturing of powerful weapons of containment. It will go into service this year and will considerably strengthen the defense capability of Belarus.
World War II took the life of every third Belarusian and threw the country's development 50 years back. Then an invisible enemy - radiation - struck the fourth of the country and its inhabitants in 1986: the loss is estimated at 32 annual budgets. The next shock was the total collapse of the USSR, which shook to the bottom the established way of life and tore all the economic ties with other union republics.
At that time, Belarus was a young small country on the European map and no one seemed to listen to it. And then the young and inexperienced President gathered a nationwide assembly to hear the voice of every Belarusian.
In those years, the people of Belarus were to defend the sovereignty and precisely determine a new course in the construction of the economy and society. There should have been no mistakes. We were walking on thin ice. A step to the left or to the right would mean destruction. There are old-timers here who were present at the first Belarusian National Assembly, who remember those days and the reasons that made me organize the Belarusian People's Assembly. Delegates from all over the country came to Minsk simply to save Belarus. If we had not said the firm "no" to the collapse, we would not be here now. This is why the first assembly was so valuable.
Nikolai Bordyuzha, guest of the 5th All-Belarusian People's Assembly, CSTO Secretary General:
I do perceive the All-Belarusian forum as the possibility of a constructive conversation between the people and the authorities. The discussion of the most pressing problems, suggestions from the public, the development of a common course. It's like a meeting of family members.
Belarus is a donor of peace and stability. This is acknowledged even by representatives of foreign countries who are skeptical to Minsk. Now Belarus rises higher and higher in various world rankings.
The first Belarusian in space Piotr Klimuk notices drastic changes. The delegate with two Soviet Union Hero stars observes Belarus' successes in space exploration.
Piotr Klimuk, guest of the 5th All-Belarusian People's Assembly, cosmonaut, twice Hero of the Soviet Union:
We have an agreement with the People's Republic of China and, in general, a communications satellite is already flying. This is also important. Few countries can do it on their own.
Tests have been passed but the global economic turbulence continues. And in such conditions Belarus has to catch up with those who rose earlier in science and industry.
The current situation in the world is characterized by intensified fighting of states for the leading position and control of the markets of raw materials. The desire of geopolitical power centers to expand their zones of strategic influence has resulted in the infringement and block of interests of other states, provoking tensions and contributing to the strengthening of inter-state conflicts. In recent years, we have seen how mechanisms for ensuring international security have been degrading. Gross interference of "the powerful" inflames entire regions.
Against this background, radical extremism and international terrorism bloom, which, filling the vacuum of anarchy, grows up to become quasi states and dictate policy to the world. Belarus, being in the geographical center of Europe, cannot remain aloof from these threats and challenges, which are taking place not only somewhere far away from us, but also very close, at Belarus' doorstep.
Soon the young and independent Belarus will turn 25 years. And over these years we have achieved what other countries did achieved in decades and even centuries. 25 years is the age of possibilities and hopes. In this age, more mistakes can be made and successes can go to your head.
Regional development will be made possible including thanks to private initiatives. Unused spaces will be sold almost for free. These days, delegates have to answer honestly, what else prevents Belarus from attracting investments. The liberalization of the rules of the game and tax system simplification should facilitate the development of small businesses. Priority should be given to trade and services. State enterprises, except for the major GDP generating ones, will become municipal property. Initiative should be the hallmark of the next five-year plan.
Talking about good governance, we are referring to the improvement of the state apparatus, so that it can to manage state property at the highest professional level turning it into higher-yielding assets. I hear often that the public administration system is very expensive. However, if we compare the cost of maintaining the state apparatus in various countries, in Belarus their share is below 2% of GDP. It is 3.5 times lower than in the European Union and two times lower than in Russia. It must be said honestly and directly that Belarus has one of the most compact state apparatus in the world. The question is that its work is not effective enough. We need to raise the prestige of civil service. This is a prerequisite if we are to achieve the result.
Countries are fighting for smart and energetic professionals. They are attracted by high salaries, bonuses, and social package. This is the reality of competition for brains. In such circumstances, we are obliged to bring in the state apparatus the best, the most competent people. This means that we have to offer them good salaries and other favorable conditions. It's time to take drastic decisions in this area.
Alexander Lukashenko is known as an anti-corruption crusader. It is rust on the economy. But one should not tighten the screws of control mechanism too much. The President voices from the rostrum what matters most to small businessman. The work of inspection bodies should not interfere with the work of enterprises and individuals.
We often work inefficiently. I often give the example. We work in Soviet manner. We go to agricultural enterprises and look how people saw or remove crops. Go only to the most problematic companies. Pay attention to others but don't relax there. Do not teach them what to do and how. Do not strangle managers with control measures, audits. If you catch someone by the hand, then punish them!
The President of Belarus today emphasized the multi-vector policy of the country and its openness to dialogue. Belarus offers the Eurasian Economic Union cooperative ties. It suggests the West to become major investors by giving favorable conditions. Belarus will establish an export promotion agency. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been given another function - to promote domestic products. Goods of Belarus should be recognized in the world such as now the concept of the Minsk peace process.
Vladimir Makei, the delegate of the fifth All-Belarusian Assembly, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:
Belarus can be compared to the heart of Europe, which is beating calmly and which will ensure the longevity of our country. We are in the center of Europe. We intend to develop relations with all countries in the east, the west, the north and the south, because it is in our interest.
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