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BELARUS


  

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 17,493 14,304 12,200 76
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,590 1,360 1,290 122
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Belarus

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
207,595

Population
10,310,520

Principal ethnic groups
Belarusians 77.9%
Russians 13.2%
Poles 4%

Capital
Minsk

Currency
Rubel 
(Belarusian Rouble)

President
Alexander Lukashenka


Update No: 309 - (26/09/06)

The co-fellowship of pariahs
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka knows perfectly well that he is a pariah. 
Pariahs seek out fellow pariahs. He is great pals with Castro and Chavez. He is now making chums with the greatest pariahs of all, the mullahs of Tehran, cast as such by their common enemy in Washington.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. What a better moment to befriend Tehran, beset by accusations of developing nuclear weapons, than now. One thing that the Belarus dictator knows - they are not going to be dropping their nuclear weapons on Belarus!

Lukashenka Wants Closer Ties With Iran
He said on September 7th Iran was a significant source of support for his country outside of the former Soviet republics, RIA Novosti news agency reports. 
Iran has been at the centre of an international dispute over the past year regarding its nuclear ambitions. Some countries suspect the Islamic Republic of pursuing a covert nuclear weapons programme, but Tehran has consistently denied the claims, saying it needs nuclear energy for civilian purposes. 
Lukashenka's domestic policies have also come under severe criticism from the West, with Washington dubbing him "Europe's last dictator," and both the U.S. and the EU banning him from entering their territories. He has responded by entering the names of their top officials in a little black book, banning them from going to Belarus! 
"[Belarusian] foreign policy has developed good relations with our neighbours, but we need to form an outside arc of good cooperation with such important states as Venezuela, South Africa, Iran and Malaysia," Lukashenka said at a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who was in Belarus on a two-day official visit. "We consider Iran as a serious point of support abroad, and we want to actively develop relations with it," Lukashenka said. 
The president also asked the Iranian minister to work out with his Belarusian counterpart issues for the presidents on the intensification of bilateral relations. 
Mottaki replied that the foreign ministers of the two countries have a very simple task, since the positions of the Belarusian and Iranian presidents are the same and are aimed at developing bilateral relations. 
"The efforts of such powerful countries as Belarus in Europe and Iran in the Middle East can bring peace to these regions," Mottaki said. 
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said Iran is studying ways to implement a number of major investment projects in Belarus. In particular, one of Iran's largest construction companies is interested in building hotels and residential buildings, as well as to form a transportation terminal in Belarus.

A new relationship with Beijing
Lukashenka met visiting Chinese Defence Minister, Cao Gangchuan, on September 13th to discuss bilateral relations and issues of common concern. He was not meeting with a pariah here; China is too big for that. He was meeting with a new, burgeoning superpower. They have one thing in common. They dislike the US's apparently unquestionable dominance of world affairs.
When meeting with Cao in the presidential office building in the Belarussian capital of Minsk, Lukashenka said relations between Belarus and China had enjoyed smooth growth, made great achievements in recent years and had entered a new era of all-round development and strategic cooperation. 
Belarus and China had many common interests and great potential for further cooperation, Lukashenka said, adding that his country stood ready to work with China to boost ties between the two armies of both nations. 
Lukashenka reaffirmed the Belarussian government's adherence to the one-China policy. 
Cao, for his part, said bilateral relations had witnessed healthy and steady growth since China and Belarus established diplomatic ties 14 years ago. The two countries have offered each other political trust and support, cooperated for common growth in economic ties, carried out extensive exchanges in various fields and coordinated closely in international and regional affairs, he said. 
The Chinese defence chief pledged China's efforts to work with Belarus to boost bilateral military ties.

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There is one power with whom Belarus is not a pariah, Russia. For several years now it has supposedly been in a growing union with it, but despite numerous initiatives and proclamations, little ever comes of it. 
The telling thing is that the formation of a common currency is constantly being postponed, the economic experts in Moscow always advising strongly against. After all why should Russia bale out the basket case of the Belarus economy, which is what would be involved?
Still this union does have a formal existence, with common institutions, a politburo, even a parliamentary assembly with 75 Russian members and 28 Belarus ones, and a general secretariat of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
The general secretary (how resonant a title) is none other than Pavel Borodin,a relict of the Soviet Kremlin where he was 'Mr Fixit' for Soviet leaders and more recenlty the former mentor of Putin in his days as Yeltsin's right hand man in all financial and business dealings in the Kremlin. He is wanted by Swiss and US authorities for bail-jumping and various malfeasances, too numerous and opaque to relate here, (his Google listing is informative). He may be persona non grata in the West, but he is just the man to be trusted in Moscow, showing undying loyalty in exchange for being protected from his many enemies. 
Here is an intriguing exchange from last year, whose main prediction has yet to be realized, but expressing an idea that Putin may still be toying with. Putin, like Yeltsin before him, plays along with Lukashenka's fancies, never quite sure when he might not turn out to be useful, although heeding the advice to keep his distance. He once said of him: "He may be a scoundrel; but he is our scoundrel." The same could be said of Borodin.

Head of Russia-Belarus Union says Putin will become its president in 2006
Excerpt from report by Russian external TV service NTV Mir on 22 June, 2005 
[Presenter] New unions are being built in Moscow today, and existing ones are being shored up: leaders of the member countries of the Eurasian Economic Community [EAEC] met in the Grand Kremlin Palace. The EAEC includes Russia, Belorussia [Belarus], Kazakstan, Kirgizia [Kyrgyzstan], Tajikistan and also Armenia - as an observer. No major political decisions are expected from this meeting. Experts say it is a response of sorts to alternative meetings of [other] former Soviet republics within the framework of GUAM [Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova]. Vladimir Kondratyev reports. 

[Correspondent] Belarusian President Lukashenka will be at the helm of the EAEC for the next year: [Kazak President Nursultan] Nazarbayev has passed on this heavy burden. Lukashenka, however, is facing a more important task: to make sure he achieves union with Russia on his own terms. 
[Pavel Borodin, state secretary of the Union of Russia and Belarus] We are a bit short of political will. 

[Correspondent] What should it consist of? 
[Borodin] It should be like it was before; convene the Politburo and say: we are holding a referendum in November; in January-February, elections to the parliamentary assembly of the Union State; and in the autumn of next year, elect president and vice-president. 

[Correspondent] Who will be president then?
[Borodin] Well, you know- 

[Correspondent] I mean, what does the constitution say? 
[Borodin] Don't prompt me with the answer! Of course it will be Putin because- Of course Putin, and Lukashenka [will be] vice-president. 

[Correspondent] Does Lukashenka agree to this? 
[Borodin] You know, even if he is loath to, he will still agree. 

[Correspondent] The Belarusian delegation reacted sceptically to this statement. The Belarusian blueprint is presumably different.

Actually the dictator of Minsk still harbours the fantasy that he could rule Russia one day via the guise of heading the union state. As Sir Lewis Namier, the British historian, said of Ribbentrop, he is a 'sinister clown.'

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FINANCIAL NEWS

GDP up 10.1% in January-July


Belarussian GDP increased 10.1 per cent year-on-year to 41.06 trillion Belarussian roubles in January-July 2006, a source in the Statistics and Analysis Ministry said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
According to the ministry, in the first seven months of this year industrial production increased 12.7 per cent to 42.32 trillion Belarussian roubles, production of consumer goods increased 10.9 per cent to 9.15 trillion roubles, with production of food stuffs up 13.2 per cent to 4.61 trillion roubles, and non-food stuffs nine per cent to 3.95 Belarussian roubles. Investment in fixed capital increased 36.1 per cent in the reporting period to 8.91 trillion Belarussian roubles. A total of 2.227 million square metres of housing was built, from all sources of financing, up 15.4 per cent year-on-year. A total of 62,300 people were registered as employees in the civil service in the reporting period, down 14.8 per cent year-on-year. Unemployment amounted to 1.4 per cent of the economically active population. According to the ministry, in Belarus consumer prices increased 0.5 per cent in July 2006, after an increase of 0.2 per cent in June. In July this year prices were up 6.7 per cent year-on-year.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Iranian foreign minister invites Lukashenka to visit Iran 

Belarussian President, Alexander Lukashenka, has received an invitation to visit Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister, Manuchehr Motaki, told reporters on September 7th. Preparations for the visit will be discussed during an upcoming meeting between Lukashenka and Iranian President, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, at a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana, New Europe reported.
Belarussian Foreign Minister, Sergei Martynov, has also been invited to Iran for an official visit. "We agreed to set up a bilateral cooperation committee within the foreign ministries' framework," Motaki said, commenting on the results of his talks with Martynov in Minsk. The sides are planning to step up economic cooperation and boost mutual trade to US$0.5 billion in the near future, he said. "Our leaders are determined to intensify political, economic and cultural cooperation. I am sure we can improve our trade in the nearest future," the Iranian minister said.

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MINERALS & METALS

Steel plant plans exports to Central Africa, Singapore

Belarussian Metals Plant (BMZ) plans to start exporting steel cord and hardware to Central Africa and Singapore this year, the company said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Representatives of BMZ and Belarussian ministries discussed exports at a meeting recently. BMZ said it was exporting products to 60 countries at present and that it had extensive trade infrastructure. BMZ has formed joint ventures to promote sales of its products to Germany, Austria, the United States and China. It has four offices in Russia and one in Latvia. BMZ is now looking to the Central African market. "BMZ exports to nearly all North African countries and to South Africa, but it also aims to cover the Central region of the African continent," the BMZ source said, adding that the plant planned to form a joint venture in one of that region's countries. In addition BMZ plans in September to negotiate shipments to Singapore and in the middle of October to hold talks about shipping its first major consignments of metal to Brazil. BMZ raised exports 12.9 per cent year-on-year in January-July to US$549.9 million. Exports account for 85 per cent of sales. BMZ, from Zhlobin in the Gomel region, is Belarus's biggest steel mill.

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