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Tuesday, 02 July 2019 17:28

Lukashenko: No taboo subjects in Belarus-Armenia relations

Lukashenko: No taboo subjects in Belarus-Armenia relations

There are no taboo subjects in the relations between Belarus and Armenia, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Armenia President Armen Sarkissian, BelTA has learned.

“We do not have any ‘no-go areas' in our relations with Armenia. We are receptive to any your wishes and requests. If you see something in Belarus that might be of use to Armenia, we are ready to open the doors for you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said addressing the Armenian president.

The Belarusian head of state recalled that after Armen Sarkissian assumed presidency in Armenia, plans were made to arrange his visit to Belarus. These plans have been fulfilled today.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also mentioned his telephone conversation with Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. “He called me prior to his visit to Singapore and asked to give best regards to the president. I responded that we are not going to see him off to Armenia any time soon. After all, what the president is doing here will be of use to Armenia,” the Belarusian leader said. He invited Armen Sarkissian to stay a bit longer in Belarus. “Take your time. Have a closer look at the things that are of interest to you in economy, manufacturing and agriculture. Being a smart, sensible, educated and pragmatic person, you know what things to look at and how Armenia can benefit from them,” the president added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that cooperation between Belarus and Armenia started virtually from scratch. “Our trade is not big, but $50 million a year is much better than nothing,” he said. Close business contacts were established. “We have built very good, friendly relations with many representatives of Armenia, including business people. You know my friends from Armenia who invest in Belarus. I really appreciate it,” the president said.

At the same time he emphasized the common requirements for those who want to run a business in Belarus. “I have one rule: duty before friendship. My presidency should have nothing to do with business. When I was approached with a request to allow supplies of some sensitive goods to Belarus, I said right away: there are some common principles. You come to Belarus, start a business, create jobs, and invest. You can import raw materials and process them,” the head of state said. Following this principle, well-known businessman Gagik Tsarukyan set up a company to bottle Armenian cognac in Belarus. “In the same way we launched the Belarus-Armenia Trading House. As far as I know, it handles 30-40% of bilateral trade. In other words, we have forged economic contacts that largely rely on joint ventures. We are ready to keep moving in this direction,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

The head of state welcomed good political relations and solid interpersonal contacts between the two nations. “Belarus has a very good and kind attitude to Armenians. Actually, we do not try to find fault with other nations. The only thing we want from others is respect and a brotherly attitude. We have a history of good relations with Armenians and we are trying to make them last,” the president said.

Despite criticism that occasionally arises from both sides, which is absolutely normal, cooperation between Belarus and Armenia remains strong and solid. “Most importantly, we are allies, we have common ground, and we even share views of the international agenda. We will always act this way,” the Belarusian leader added.

In turn, Armen Sarkissian thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko for his invitation to visit Belarus and attend the closing ceremony of the 2nd European Games. “I was absolutely impressed with the scale, teamwork and discipline. I believe that Belarus is ready for even a bigger event,” he said. The Armenian president praised a very good performance of Armenian athletes and congratulated Team Belarus on its success at the games.

Armen Sarkissian shared his impressions of visiting the Hi-Tech Park. “I was glad to see that Belarus is ahead of many countries, that Belarus realized that virtual reality will enhance the future,” he said.

The Armenian president said that Belarus chose the right development path and emphasized the role of the head of state in making this choice. “You have vision and wisdom. These are not just nice words. This is a reality. Having a vision for a future is a great gift for a politician, because it is impossible to build the present without it,” he said.

The heads of state exchanged gifts. Aleksandr Lukashenko presented souvenirs of the 2nd European Games – a picture from bog oak with medallions symbolizing 15 sports featured in the games, an exclusive chocolate collection, and the mascot of the games Lesik the Fox. Armen Sarkissian congratulated the Belarusian president on the forthcoming national holiday – Independence Day, and noted that on this day his grandson Armen was also born. He will receive Lesik the Fox as a gift.

Armen Sarkissian gave Aleksandr Lukashenko a papyrus with the Lord's Prayer. That papyrus has been to Jerusalem.

Belarus-Armenia trade and economic relations are on the rise. In 2018, the bilateral trade was estimated at $50.1 million, up 17.3% over the year before. Belarus' export amounted to $37.4 million (up 8.3% over 2017); the import reached $12.7 million (up 55%).

The growth remained in place at the beginning of 2019. In January-April, the trade stood at $19.3 million, up nearly 31% over the same period of 2018. Belarus' export rose by 30% exceeding $15 million; the import expanded by nearly 37% up to $4.2 million.

Belarus' major exports to Armenia are milk, condensed cream and cream powder, tractors and truck tractors, medicines, tires, paper and cardboard. The key import items are liquors and furniture.

In 2018 Armenia invested $7.6 million in Belarus, including $7.5 million of FDI. In the first quarter of this year, $3.5 million of foreign direct investment was raised.

More than 80 entities of commodity distribution networks of domestic enterprises operate in Armenia. There are three enterprises with Belarusian capital there. Belarus is home to 57 enterprises with Armenian capital (17 joint ventures and 40 foreign ones).

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