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The solemn meeting “Union State: Opening New Opportunities” dedicated to the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Russia and Belarus, is held on April 2 in online and offline formats in Moscow and Minsk.

From the transcript:

A. Overchuk: Dear friends!

I would like to congratulate you on our common holiday – the Day of Unity of the Peoples of Belarus and Russia.

This is a wonderful date that reminds us of the need to cherish what lies at the heart of the fraternal, allied, very close relations of our countries – our common spiritual traditions, culture, and a sincere desire to unite opportunities in the name of improving the lives of the people of our countries.

I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart Grigory Alekseevich Rapota for his selfless work in the formation of our Union State, and also welcome, in a new capacity, Dmitry Fedorovich Mezentsev, who is today the State Secretary of the Union State. We are convinced that he will continue the course of deepening ties between our fraternal peoples as effectively as he did as the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Minsk.

The signing on April 2, 1996 of the Treaty on the Formation of the Community of Russia and Belarus, which preceded the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State, laid the foundation for the integration of Belarus and Russia on a new basis, taking into account the realities of the fact that today we are two independent, sovereign states. Over the past quarter of a century, we have managed to achieve a lot in the course of building the Union State. Many things have become so firmly embedded in the lives of our people that they are taken for granted. First of all, these are equal rights of citizens of Russia and Belarus in the field of medicine, social and pension security, education, freedom of movement, choice of residence and employment.

This makes the Union State of Belarus and Russia a unique integration model, functioning on the principles of equality and mutual respect and based on a common history, the intertwining of human destinies, family ties, the geographical, spiritual and cultural proximity of our peoples, our countries. But first of all, it is an integration model that allows us to develop integration solutions, which can then be distributed in other integration associations, where our countries are present together today.

In accordance with the topic of my today’s report, I would like to focus on the economic potential of the Union State.

Our economies are deeply interconnected. Russia is the main trade partner of Belarus: almost half of the total trade turnover falls on our country, approximately 48.3%. For us, the republic is the main trade partner in the CIS space and the fourth in the world. This is largely due to the build-up of cooperation ties and the modernization of existing interaction tools.

In terms of accumulated investments in the Belarusian economy, Russia also firmly holds the first place: in 2020 they exceeded USD 4 billion, while Belarusian investments in Russia also amounted to a serious amount – USD 720 million. Almost 2.5 thousand companies with the participation of Russian capital operate in Belarus today. These are dry numbers, but behind them are hundreds of thousands of people working for the development of our Union State.

The continuation of the practice of holding such events as the Forum of the Regions of Russia and Belarus on a regular basis remains important for unlocking the investment potential of the regions of the two countries. Following the results of the seventh forum, which took place last year in the format of a videoconference, contracts worth USD 700 million were signed. And we also expect the eighth forum, scheduled for June 30 – July 1, to be just as successful.

We are cooperating in such an important area as energy. And here the most important step in the energy supply of the republic was the implementation of the project for the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

Signing on 19 February 2021 of an intergovernmental agreement on the transshipment and transportation of Belarusian oil products through the seaports of Russia became a landmark for bilateral cooperation. Belarusian enterprises are provided with access to the sea on terms no worse than in the Baltic countries. I am sure that in the future, in a joint regime, we will be able to find a solution that will allow us to provide transit through Russian ports and other Belarusian products to world markets, including potash fertilizers.

Today, the work of the Union State is aimed not only at an actual increase in trade turnover and economic growth, but at disclosing reserves and possible growth points.

The deepening of industrial cooperation between Russia and Belarus, the establishment of new production chains between the enterprises of our countries, which will allow avoiding unnecessary competition and the cost of creating duplicate investments in our states, have serious synergetic potential.

We are developing very close cooperation. As an example, I would like to point out the production of automotive, agricultural and logging equipment, and chemical products. For this, it is important for us together to create the most comfortable conditions for doing business in our countries.

In a word, we are confident that the pooling of potentials within the framework of the Union State is the advantage that allows us to most effectively solve the issues of the development of our countries and increase the well-being of our people.

We pay special attention to integration within the framework of the Union State and the creation of a single economic space, which will allow us to bring our interaction to a completely new level of social, economic and humanitarian ties. Today we are really creating mechanisms of integration cooperation that will already minimize contradictions in all areas and provide favorable social conditions for the citizens of our countries.

The Union State is the embodiment of the aspiration of the peoples of Russia and Belarus to be together. It stands the test of time with dignity. I am convinced that only together our countries will be able to successfully cope with all difficulties and bring the life of people in our countries to a qualitatively new level.

Thank you very much, thank you for your attention.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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