Belarus and the Nizhny Novgorod region aim to increase turnover to 1 billion dollars. On April 20, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met with the governor of that Russian region Valery Shantsev.
Cooperation of Belarus with Russian regions is the basis of relations between the countries as a whole. This was underlined during the recent talks between the leaders of Belarus and Russia in St. Petersburg.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
We have created a solid basis for industrial cooperation. In your region, Belarus has established facilities assembling Belarusian lifts, there is a house of Belshina and dealers of the largest engineering enterprises as Gomselmash, Minsk Tractor Plant, MAZ and Amkodor work in your region. In turn, we actively buy your steel, trucks, and products of chemical industry. I believe that the experience of our organizations that cooperated with the Nizhny Novgorod NPP construction company Atomstroiexport during the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant may be in demand in the implementation of other energy projects.
For us it is very important that you involve Belarusians in the process and many of our companies work there.
So far, no one has received complaints. This means that we can build nuclear power plants around the world with you, and we will be in demand there. Because - let's be honest - many countries today experience labor shortage. Our advantage is that we have preserved vocational education. We have fully preserved it and base increased and strengthened it. Our workers and foremen are really trained people. We already receive orders from other states. We are ready to assist, as before, in the modernization of livestock farms and the supply of agricultural machinery.
We are ready to sign turnkey contracts if need be.
Valery Shantsev, Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region (Russia):
The Republic of Belarus is a key partner in foreign trade activities of the Nizhny Novgorod region. We work with 143 countries. In terms of the sales volume, Belarus ranks first.
No one else has such close contacts and economic relations with us.
Virtually all sectors work together. Somewhere finishing production takes place on the Belarusian side, some in Russia, so there is an exchange of components. All this gives us the opportunity to grow as a whole. And we note that, despite the fall of the trade between Belarus and Russia, our trade turnover (between Belarus and Nizhny Novgorod region) grew by 7% in 2016.
Alexander Lukashenko also commented on the materials of some Russian media about the relations between Belarus and Russia.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I want to tell you: Belarus has never kneeled to anyone. I just want to tell some 'journalists' from written and TV media that Belarusian products (tractors, cars, machinery and entire chemical industry) contain from 30% to 90% of components and raw materials from Russia. When we were deciding what to do, when we held a referendum on the Union of Belarus and Russia, we proceeded from the fact that we do not need to break the established economic ties. And we did not. We started to strengthen and modernize economy. Thus, we retained finished production, like it was in the Soviet Union. Today more than 10 million people work at Russian enterprises that manufacture components, materials, etc.
Helping with the finished production stage, preserving the relevant enterprises in Belarus, we are helping at least 10 million (or even 15 million) people who work in Russia.
And, then, you must understand that if the Russian ambassador lends us we pay him, you know, an interest of 6%. 4.5-6% per annum for these loans, moreover, we always pay them back properly. Americans pay you half a percent. All countries always get some loans from international organizations or from some states. I must say that Russia does not occupy first place in this respect. In first place is the Chinese People's Republic. It provided us with a credit line of approximately $15 billion.
Someone may tell you that Belarus is turning somewhere, to the West, or somewhere else. Look, we understand our place. No one needs us in the West.
Living in the center of Europe we are forced to pursue such a policy: to preserve the country and security, its sovereignty, its independence and stability, so that people, Russians and citizens of Nizhny Novgorod, live in normal conditions. I hope Nizhny Novgorod residents coming here don't complain. For this to be possible we need to work hard.
As regards cooperation with the Nizhny Novgorod region, now in the list of promising cooperation areas are automotive supplies, road construction, passenger and agricultural machinery. Belarusian organizations may take part in the implementation of housing construction programs in that Russian region, too.
In 2018, Nizhny Novgorod will host some matches of FIFA World Cup. Here Belarus also has some experience to share. After all, Minsk hosted the 2014 IIHF WM.
In the morning in Minsk, the delegation of the Russian region led by governor Valery Shantsev participated in a ceremony at Victory Square. The delegation laid wreaths and flowers to the monument and eternal flame in the center of the Belarusian capital. In memory of those killed during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), the guests observed a minute of silence.