Belarus is interested in attracting Belgian investments and ready for a political dialogue on extending business cooperation. On March 15, 2017 Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met with Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium.
Didier Reynders is an experienced politician and is visiting Belarus for the first time, primarily as a representative of Belgium.
Nevertheless, the EU’s headquarters are in Brussels, that’s why the major projects and bilateral economic interests of Belarus and Belgium were discussed.
Brussels is one of the most important political places of the world. Belarus’ dialogue with Belgium hasn’t always been intensive, but sides assure that they are ready for cooperation. Belgium takes great interest in the development dynamics of Belarus, liberalization of the economy and participation of Belarus in the international negotiation process. The diplomatic relations of Minsk and Brussels celebrated their 25th anniversary in March, 2017.
The Belgian Embassy in Belarus was opened in 1994, and Alexander Lukashenko visited the Kingdom in 1995.
That visit was very important for Belarus.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus:
I remember the request I then made to the Belgian government. I wanted to see an ordinary farm, a farm business. I said that I wanted to see how capitalists live in Western agricultural sector. And in many ways it convinced me that the priority which mustn’t get lost in agriculture is the big marketable agricultural production.
It was a Belgian farmer who brought this idea to my mind.
He said that it is impossible to work and be rich with only 30 or 40 hectares of land. You can live, but you won’t be rich. However, when he found out that Belarus has large latifundia and big marketable agricultural sector, he then said that it needs to be saved.
Some 20 years on I assured myself, that he was a great man, he was right.
Didier Reynders has been one of the key Belgian government’s figures for a long time. Nowadays he is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium.
Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium:
It’s my first time in Minsk, but I have experience in communicating with Belarusians in finance and bank spheres. I would like to confirm the interest of Belgian companies in cooperating with Belarus.
With great interest Belgium follows the economic reforms which are or will be implemented in Belarus.
There are two main vectors in Belarus-Belgium dialogue, First of all, bilateral contacts is economy.
The maximum commodity circulation of $570 million was reached in 2012; in 2016 it was $370 million.
Belgium occupied the seventh position among EU and 13 other countries in the volume of Belarusian export. Another important issue is investments.
I cannot say that we suffer from the lack of investments, not at all. But Belarus would also like to see Belgian investments alongside with Chinese, Russian and other republics’ inputs. Belarus wants to diversify its investing activities, and if you have such a wish, then we will promote this. We would be happy for the Belgian government to support their investors and tell Belarus, which invvestors are worth working with. Belarus’ main aim is to find the right and a good investor. A retail investor.
Belgian investment summed up to a total of $700,000 in 2015, and about $560,000 in 2016.
A year and a half ago a special agency was founded in Brussels, the main aim of which is to facilitate the capital formation into Belarus. Didier Reynders emphasized that Belgian companies take notice of the privatization processes and would like to expand their presences in Belarus.
The second vector is Belarus-EU relations. Belarus has always been for unification and stability of the EU.
I have lately been taking the stand for the maintenance of the EU. Because I am for a multipolar world. The EU is one of the most powerful strengths alongside with China and the USA. It’s a powerful support for the entire planet. If it disappears, negative consequences are inevitable. I don’t take Brexit or nationalistic movements in seriously. No matter what it takes, the EU needs to remain. You will always see Belarus as a country which is for unification and stability in Europe.
Minsk has also received an official invitation from the Belgian side to participate in the Eastern Partnership Summit, which will be held in Brussels at the end of 2017.
Very soon, in mid-April of 2017, a regular flight will connect Belarus and Belgium. Both parties hope that the advances in the two countries’ cooperation will gain pace.