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Belarusian, Ukrainian presidents meet at Chernobyl disaster anniversary

The Belarusian and Ukrainian presidents visited the Chernobyl zone to commemorate the victims of the 1986 disaster and then held talks in Belarus' agro town Lyaskovichi, Gomel region. Before proceeding to talks on economic and political relations, the heads of state visited the St. Michael's church. They took part in a prayer and lit candles in memory of victims of the Chernobyl disaster.

Coming out of the church Alexander Lukashenko and Petro Poroshenko talked with the locals.

As a symbol of peace and unity, the presidents were presented a gift - icons.

Local residents Maria says she has been waiting for the meeting with Alexander Lukashenko for two years.

Mariya Brain, resident of the village Lyaskovichi:
In 2015, he was here in the church. He shook my hand. And he even said he would return here for sure.

On the day of the tragic events, the Chernobyl victims were remembered first of all. The Presidents emphasized that they intentionally decided to leave the protocol formalities behind.

In the center of attention are the common people with their daily problems.

Today Lyaskovichi is a promising agro town. A new kindergarten, renovated schools, parks and running enterprises. Since the last census, over 100 new residents settled here.

Anton Levada, Lyaskovichi villager:
We had nothing. The collective farm collapsed. In comparison with what we had 10 years ago, yes, it changed a lot. Everything was renovated. The school was repaired, and the kindergarten. Roads were constructed.

The official Minsk and Kiev started diplomatic relations in 1991. Over the years, there have been periods of friendship and periods of confusion between the two countries. But Belarus and Ukraine are still not just neighbors on the world map.

The nations are bound by common historical destiny, and relevant issues of the future.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I am very pleased that we are spending half a day there in Ukraine state and then in Belarus. It symbolizes our community, symbolizes our present, it will be a symbol of our future. You very rightly said in the church, that we are now going to discuss our future,

how to make the lives of our Belarusians and our Ukrainians better.

And we can do it, because inside the sarcophagus, Ukrainians were able to do heroic work... So we will make it.

More than three years ago Belarus became a meeting place for the settlement of the conflict in the east of Ukraine. In 2015, after difficult negotiations, it is in Minsk where a document on the cessation of hostilities was signed.

Petro Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine:
In the critical days in February 2015, when the fate of the world hung in the balance... After the 19-hour epic... Without a sleep... We repeatedly offered to at least have lunch or dinner. We remained virtually without any dinner. We were working on a document that formed the basis of the principles of settlement, was designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations Security Council,

and today there are no alternatives to the Minsk plan for peace and stability in Ukraine.

Ukraine is one of the most important partners of Belarus. But in the last few years the volume of bilateral trade has not been pleasing. However, in the first months of 2017, the growth is already almost 40%. The presidents believe Belarusians and Ukrainians do not need mediators and translators.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Belarus is the fourth largest trading partner of Ukraine. Ukraine for us is the second largest trading partner. Today, the co-production of Minsk Tractor Plant (MTZ), Gomselmash and Mogilovliftmash work in the neighboring country successfully. We jointly produce municipal and firefighting equipment. We agreed that we will support these processes, that we will strive for greater localization of products in Ukraine and will expand and maintain the range and the list of goods that will be co-produced in Belarus and in Ukraine.

Petro Poroshenko:
We have agreed to expand the markets of Belarus for Ukraine goods, for Ukrainian services on a reciprocal basis.

We welcome Belarusian enterprises to take part in tenders for the construction of roads in Ukraine

Ukrainian builders are welcome to partake in various tenders for construction in Belarus.

31 years ago, Belarus and Ukraine faced a common problem. It is symbolic that the Presidents of the two countries spent this memorable day together. They were united in the face of this disaster. Friendship built on a solid foundation of memory has a great future.

Belarusian, Ukrainian presidents meet at Chernobyl disaster anniversary