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Lukashenko calls Novosibirsk Oblast promising partner in Russia's Siberia

MINSK (BelTA) – Novosibirsk Oblast is one of Belarus' most promising economic partners in Russia's Siberia, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Novosibirsk Oblast Governor Andrei Travnikov on 24 January, BelTA has learned.

The conversation started with the weather topic. “Belarusians immediately sensed that our fellow people from Siberia came. The weather stabilized. It became more Siberian-like. This is very good for us,” the president noted.

The head of state emphasized that the bilateral relations are based on long-standing contacts between people, as well as a high level of fruitful cooperation. Novosibirsk Oblast is home to over 5,000 Belarusians, many of them are descendants of those who explored Siberia a long time ago. “Belarusian entrepreneurs run successful businesses in the region. You regularly host fairs of Belarusian products. Our foodstuffs, footwear, textiles, furniture sell very well there,” the president noted.

Alexander Lukashenko added that Novosibirsk is known as Russia's research hub. In recent years it has turned into one of key equipment suppliers for the Belarusian nuclear power plant. “Cooperation on the NPP construction project is mutually beneficial. This project helped forge new contacts in technology between companies from Belarus and your region,” the Belarusian leader noted. “More than that, we are grateful to Russians, first of all, for teaching us to build such facilities. I think that our construction workers and specialists in various areas of expertise will be useful to you around the world. Russians speak highly of the work of our specialists involved in the NPP construction project,” the Belarusian leader said.

The president sees great cooperation prospects in science. Collaboration between the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences will be analyzed in the near future.

According to Alexander Lukashenko, the parties could set up joint ventures, share time-tested technology and roll out products that will sell well not only in Belarus and Russia, but also in the markets of third countries. Belarus is well positioned to meet the needs of Novosibirsk Oblast in modern trucks, passenger vehicles, farm machines, municipal machinery and road construction machines, as well as light industry products and foodstuffs.

Speaking about other promising cooperation avenues, the president mentioned the joint venture BKM-Siberia set up in cooperation with Belkommunmash. The company specializes in upgrading trams; however it could as well assemble trolleybuses.

“There are some cooperation prospects in the aviation sector. You know that we are redeploying the aircraft repair plant outside Minsk. We are ready to expand it, if you are also interested in it, in order to carry out technical maintenance and repair of modern types of aircraft,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Belarus is ready to help implement the Novosibirsk Oblast agriculture development program, like it did even in Sakhalin. Belarus suggests using its design projects to build agro-towns and social infrastructure in rural communities. “There is no other way for Russia to develop its agriculture. You know very well that many regions in Russia that used to produce cereal crops are neglected. The same could have happened here had we not tackled this issue,” the president noted.

The head of state noted that the construction of the Eastern Bypass of Novosibirsk and Southwestern Transit is underway in the region. “We are ready to join these projects if you can benefit from that. Apart from that, you are building ice arenas for the junior ice hockey championships. If you need our expertise and knowledge, you are welcome to study our facilities,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Apart from that, Mogilevliftmash equipment could be used in construction and repair of residential housing in the region.

“In other words, we are open not only for a dialogue, but also for cooperation. We are ready to negotiate concrete agreements if Siberians want it. Belarus has always been your home. We are fully determined to cooperate with our sister nation. However, as I say, this cooperation should be fair. We will always be responsive to you. If you need to promote your goods in the west, come and work here, as if it were your land. We will always help you,” the Belarusian leader assured.

“Remember, we are destined to be together. This will be a long way should we cut off our ties. But we will be together in the end anyway. The same is about Ukraine. We are Slavonic peoples, and we should stick together. And we will. We are not welcome anywhere else. Our entire history proves that,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Andrei Travnikov, in turn, noted that a delegation from Novosibirsk Oblast had planned to visit Belarus in 2017, however the visit was postponed for various reasons. In his words, the visit to Belarus turned out to be very fruitful and busy. The delegation visited not only Minsk, but also other cities and toured industry giants, social and cultural facilities and local landmarks. The delegation visited Vitebsk, Gomel, Mogilev, and Bobruisk. They also visited the president's native land.

Minsk hosted the fourth session of the Belarus-Novosibirsk Oblast business cooperation council. It resulted in several cooperation agreements and contracts in manufacturing, transport, science and education.

“Here we came to see the familiar type of weather and a warm welcome. We saw determination to keep working. You are absolutely right when you say that friendship is not about money. Unfortunately, there is a demand for fake news in today's world. What matters most is that Siberians and Belarusians do not produce fake stories to satisfy this negative demand. We just work together,” he said.

In January-November 2018 Belarus-Novosibirsk Oblast trade was estimated at $264.3 million, up 51% over the same period in 2017. The export stood at $123.3 million, the import at $141 million.