Books on Belarus
Update No: 316 - (26/04/07)
Searching for new allies and energy suppliers
The hard-pressed Belarus regime, with its notorious dictator in charge, is
seeking new partners wherever it can find them. It badly needs to diversify its
supplies of energy away from Russia.
It is now abundantly clear that the Kremlin has no further interest in
bankrolling the basket-case that is the Belarussian economy. It is going to
charge full world market prices shortly for oil and gas.
The EU countries and the US have made it equally clear that Lukashenka and his
top officials and ministers are persona non grata. But there are other countries
which may not be so fussy.
Belarus intends to intensify cooperation with India and Oman, president says:
A) Trip to Oman
On April 14-17, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka, made official
visits to the Sultanate of Oman and India.
The first visit of the president was to Oman, which had the status of a state
visit It became the first in the 15-year long history of diplomatic relations
between the two countries. Today Oman is one of the leading and most
authoritative countries of the region. Belarus is interested in the development
of contacts with it, as Belarus desires to have a closer dialogue with the
Persian Gulf countries.
On April 14, on his arrival to Muscat, Alexander Lukashenka had an initial
meeting with sultan of Oman, Qaboos Bin Said who holds all major posts in the
country, namely that of prime minister, supreme commander-in-chief of the armed
forces, head of the Central Bank, foreign ministry, defence ministry and finance
ministry. He must have felt quite at home.
On the night of April 14, an official dinner was given on behalf of the sultan
of Oman in honour of the president of the Republic of Belarus, which, besides
from the Omani and Belarusian officials, was attended by nearly all members of
the diplomatic corps accredited in the country.
It is noteworthy, that Oman accepts no more than two foreign delegations of such
a level every year. all this grand play-acting at the hands of a sultan no less
must have been most gratifying for Lukashenka's self-esteem.
Since the Sultanate has been pursuing a more open policy towards its foreign
economic partners lately, the market of Oman, as yet developed poorly, may be
very promising for Belarus. Besides, Oman possesses significant investment as
well as energy resources which Belarus is ready to utilise to pursue mutually
beneficial projects. The bilateral cooperation in the sphere of education is
The president of Belarus and sultan Qaboos Bin Said mapped out the specific
avenues they intend to move along to intensify the bilateral cooperation and
exchanged opinions on urgent international issues. On April 15, the Belarusian
leader had talks with the deputy premier of Oman, Sayyid Fahad bin Mahmood
Al-Said. 'I thank you for the invitation to visit the Sultanate to study
opportunities for cooperation with Oman. And they are quite good,' the president
On the same day, the president of Belarus held another round of talks with the
Sultan of Oman Qaboos Bin Said in both extended and one-to-one formats.
Talks were also held at a less elevated level, in which top ministers,
blackballed in the EU and the US, could bask in the Omani welcome. Within the
framework of the visit, representatives of Belarusian ministries, agencies and
companies, who accompanied the president, held bilateral negotiations with Omani
colleagues. The Belarus' taxes and duties minister, Anna Deiko, signed an
agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of tax evasion with
regard to profit and capital taxes. The Belarusian chamber of commerce and
industry and the chamber of commerce and industry of the Sultanate of Oman have
signed an agreement on cooperation. Vladimir Bobrov, the head of the Belarusian
chamber of commerce and industry, signed the agreement representing the
The Minsk mayor, Mikhail Pavlov, also held fruitful negotiations in Muscat with
his Omani colleague. The Minsk administration is interested in signing an
agreement on establishing ties between Minsk and Muscat, he said. Minsk and
Muscat deem there to be good prospects for the development of interaction in
various spheres, above all in the sphere of economy, education and tourism.
Mikhail Pavlov invited his Omani counterpart to visit Minsk any time most
convenient for him and the Omani colleague expressed interest in getting
acquainted with the tourist potential of Belarus.
B) Trip to India
After Oman, Alexander Lukashenka went to India. Answering questions of
reporters in New Delhi, the president of Belarus said India was not only a
priority partner, but also a pride of the foreign policy of Belarus. Now 'the
time of India is coming', he said. 'Such a colossal state with such human
resources, enormous economic potential cannot fail to be essential in the world.
No issue in the world can be solved today without the participation of India,'
the Belarusian leader said.
'The peculiarity of our relations with India is that they are based on
scientific-technical cooperation. It is science, rather than trade, that is in
the vanguard here,' Alexander Lukashenka emphasized.
In the capital of India, Alexander Lukashenka held talks with the president of
the country Abdula Kalam; prime minister Manmohan Singh; vice-premier, chairman
of the Council of States (the upper chamber of the Indian parliament) Bhairon
Singh Shekhawat; foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee.
During the talks the sides discussed the urgent issues of bilateral relations.
The leaderships of Belarus and India reaffirmed their commitment to intensifying
trade and economic cooperation and enhancing the efficiency of sci-tech
interaction. The president of India promised to give support to joint
The sides also touched upon urgent international issues. Alexander Lukashenka
thanked the Indian side for its support in international organisations. For its
part, Belarus will give analogous support to India in all spheres, the president
of Belarus said.
India, along with China and Russia, is one of the important foreign political
partners of Belarus, the president said. 'We have an opportunity to rely on the
potential of these states for ensuring our independence and sovereignty,' he
The two presidents signed a joint declaration mapping out the avenues of further
expansion of the Belarusian-Indian interaction. The sides reaffirmed their
commitment to the development of strategic partnership, the importance of new
initiatives in the spheres of trade, economy, science, technology, investments,
including the setting up of joint enterprises and industrial application of the
products of scientific research.
The document also marks the completion of Belarusian-Indian negotiation on the
Belarus' accession to the World Trade Organisation.
On the night of April 16, an official dinner was organised on behalf on the
president of India, Abdul Kalam, in honour of the president of Belarus. The
usual bromides were spoken. In the course of the dinner Alexander Lukashenka
said Belarus and India had bright cooperation prospects. The results of the
Belarusian-Indian talks confirmed the high level of friendship, mutual
understanding and trust between the two countries, he said.
The president of Belarus endorsed the idea of the India's president to push the
bilateral trade to US$0.5 billion by 2010.
Abdul Kalam emphasized that the visit of the head of Belarus to India coincided
with the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations
between the countries, which is marked on April 17.
'India sees Belarus as a close friend. We recall with satisfaction the results
of your previous visit to India in 1997 which gave a significant boost to the
bilateral relations in various spheres. Undoubtedly the present visit on the
highest level will contribute to the strengthening of various contacts between
the two countries', the president of India said addressing Alexander Lukashenka.
According to Mr. Abdul Kalam, there is a need to tap deeper into the potential
of the two countries to intensify the trade-economic cooperation. Alongside with
the top-level talks, New Delhi also saw a business forum featuring
representatives of Belarusian and Indian business circles.
Within the framework of the visit, the following five documents were signed: a
treaty between Belarus and India on extradition, an agreement between the
ministry of agriculture and foodstuffs of Belarus and agriculture ministry of
India, a programme of cooperation between the government of Belarus and
government of India in the spheres of culture, arts, education, mass media and
press for 2007-2009, a protocol between Belarus and India on the accession of
Belarus to the World Trade Organisation and the executive programme of the
Belarusian-Indian cooperation in the sphere of science and technology for
Adamkus speaks against the international isolation of Belarus
A country whose government might be expected to look askance at Belarus is
neighbouring Latvia. However, speaking of Belarus: "For us, it is important
that Belarus is not separated from Europe because of its government's
actions," President Adamkus said in his annual address to the Lithuanian
The transcript of the speech was posted on the Lithuanian president's website.
"We must spare no economic or institutional effort to help establish
security and stability in Eastern neighbouring regions. It will notably reduce
potential threats to the people of Lithuania, its statehood and economy,"
he went on to say.
Mr. Adamkus stressed that Lithuania continued "to pursue the historic
mission of a country connecting rich and similar cultures of Eastern and Western
civilizations - their unity and diversity respected as a great asset."
Belarus Plans Import of Oil via Lithuania
The two countries are coming closer together in practical ways. From 2008
Belarus plans to import crude oil via Lithuanian terminals. "We are
discussing possibilities of crude oil import from Venezuela and Iran, it means
that we study a possibility to use the oil terminals of Butinge and Klaipedos,"
Uladzimir Drazhyn, Belarussian ambassador to Lithuania, said on April 19th. He
said that import of crude oil via Lithuania could make up to 7 million tons a
year, it means one third of Belarus' wants. First deliveries could start in
2008, though the final solution hasn't been reached.
Adamkus asked Minsk to consider a variant of crude oil import via a terminal in
Klaipeda after Russia suspended oil deliveries to Belarus for several days
because of clash of interests concerning imposing new export duties.
This year Russia has imposed export duties on oil for refineries in Belarus,
decreasing their profitability and causing concerns of the market over decrease
of high quality raw products export to Western Europe and the US. "We
should look for alternative ways of crude oil import, as existing reserves do
not meet the growing demand," the Ambassador said.
Oil refineries in Belarus need up to 21.5 million tons of fuel a year, he added.
Products of these refineries are usually delivered to European markets via
Baltic ports, including Klaipeda.
Finance ministry puts budget surplus at 11.8% of GDP
Belarus had a central budget surplus of 1.468 trillion Belarussian roubles in
January-February 2007, the Belarussian Finance Ministry said, Interfax News
Agency reported, quoting a figure that includes the country's Social Welfare
Revenue was 5.207 trillion roubles or 17 per cent of the year's target, and
spending was 3.739 trillion roubles, or 11.7 pe rcent. February revenue was
2.582 trillion roubles or 1.6 per cent lower than in January, and February
spending was 2.111 trillion roubles, or 29.7 per cent more. This year's budget
targets a deficit of 1.4 trillion roubles or 1.5 per cent of GDP. It projects
revenue of 30.61 trillion roubles and spending of 32.01 trillion roubles.
Belarus had a central budget surplus of 1.2 trillion roubles or 1.5 per cent of
GDP in 2006.
Belneftekhim to have 40% stake in Venezuelan oil venture
The Belarusian stake in an oil production joint venture being set up with
Venezuela will amount to 40 per cent, a source in the Belneftekhim development
and investment department said, Interfax News Agency reported.
"According to Belarusian national legislation, for Belarus to organise oil
production in that country it is necessary to set up a joint venture in which
the share of the Venezuelan side should be not less than 60 per cent.
Consequently, the Belarusian side will invest 40 per cent in the joint
venture," he said, adding that "this involves investments of millions
of dollars." At the same time, the source said that despite the high cost
for Belarus of remote oil production compared with Russia, "the project is
extremely profitable.' "We will receive good profit due to the absence in
Venezuela of VAT on this type of work, and other taxes," he said.
Belneftekhim is currently developing a mechanism for the sale of products from
remote oil production. The source said that Venezuela would like to see an
influx of Belarusian investment. In turn, Belarus, in order to accelerate the
process of setting up the oil production joint venture, has asked the Venezuelan
government to provide the republic with an existing field to organise oil
production. "We were offered the Oficina-1 field, but its parameters were
not very suitable. We expect that a Belarusian-Venezuelan working group will be
set up in the near future to study other options that Venezuela will
offer," the source said. According to the company, Belarus will also
explore at the same time new fields at the Junin-1 block in the Orinoco basin
under an agreement signed by Belorusneft and Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PdVSA)
Refineries to process 1.9m tonnes of oil in April
Throughput at Belarusian oil refineries - Mozyr Oil Refinery and Naftan - will
amount to 1.9 million tonnes in April, of which 50 per cent will be refined
under contract for Russian oil companies, Sergei Ostapets, head of the
Belneftekhim crude supply coordination department, said, Interfax News Agency
He said in April traditional suppliers would supply oil on processing terms to
the Belarusian refineries. "In April operations at the oil refineries will
be stable and they will produce sufficient products to meet demand in the
country and to implement current export contracts," he said. According to
the Belneftekhim representative, in March this year Belarussian refineries
refined about 1.9 million tonnes of oil, of which 60 per cent was under contract
(including 150,000 tonnes supplies for refining under contract by state
companies - Belorusneft and Belarusian Oil Trading House). In January-March this
year supplies of Russian oil to Belarusian refineries amounted to 4.4 million
tonnes, which corresponds to the schedule for oil supplies through Russian
Bosch to supply engine components to MMZ in 2007
Minsk Motor Plant hopes that Germany's Bosch will start supplying components for
the production of Euro-3 and Euro-4 standard engines in 2007, a source in the
Belarussian company said, Interfax News Agency reported.
The source said the plant traditionally buys components for diesel engines from
the company. Moreover, Bosch provides engineering support for a number of the
pant's projects. Bosch is to appoint a specialist in April that will control the
process of organizing new engine production in Belarus. With the start of serial
production of Euro-3 engines the plant will start to certify then to
international standards. The source also said that the plant is developing its
own diesel engine meeting Euro-4 standards and plans to put together a trial
model by the end of August 2007. The plant produced 106,400 diesel engines in
2006 and plans to increase production to 130,000 units in 2007.