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Lukashenko suggests new projects to Russia's Novgorod Oblast

MINSK (BelTA) – It is necessary to have a fresh look at cooperation prospects and build up ties with Belarus, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said during a meeting with Governor of Russia's Novgorod Oblast Andrei Nikitin in Minsk on 17 October, BelTA has learned.

The Belarusian head of state welcomed the Russian governor and noted that this is Andrei Nikitin's first visit to Belarus.

“Such a visit offers a great opportunity to learn more about our country, assess its economic and manufacturing capacities and have a new look at bilateral cooperation prospects,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Personal involvement of governors in building ties is of paramount importance. If a governor is interested, things will go from strength to strength. It is encouraging that your region and Belarus are interested not only in a more vibrant trade, but also in more active cooperation across other areas,” the Belarusian leader added.

The president stated that cooperation with Russian regions is high on Belarus' agenda. “Some (or maybe, many) in Moscow are concerned about our frequent meetings with heads of Russian regions. There is no conspiracy here. I often say that if certain people think that this is their Russia, they are wrong. This is our Russia as well! People need to get used to it. Russia is more than just a country. Especially for Belarus. This is the ideology, and I cannot give up on it,” he said.

Novgorod Oblast is one of the Russian regions with which Belarus has built particularly close ties. “We have always maintained good relations. Although our trade is not so impressive, about $100 million, we have room for growth as athletes say,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Belarus purchases reinforcement materials, chemical substances, sawn timber and ceramics from Novgorod Oblast. Belarus is ready to offer agricultural products, machinery and equipment, as well as construction services.

Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned that he had often invited Russian governors to build closer ties in the agricultural sector, in particular he suggested supplying seeds and pedigree cattle. After all, availability of foodstuffs and basic products is crucial for maintaining stability in a state. “We know that we need to provide people with food and clothes. If we do it, neither Russia nor Belarus will collapse,” he said. The president recalled that leaders of the Soviet Union disregarded people's needs, which was one of the reasons for the disintegration of the state. “They were busy with space exploration, new arms, and no one wanted to take care of people's needs,” the president said.